White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that the United States "must be prepared, if necessary, to compel the denuclearization of North Korea."
McMaster's comments, in an interview with the BBC that was posted on the Internet on December 19, were the latest indication that the United States is ready to use force at some point to remove the threat posed by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
Asked whether the United States is committed to a peaceful solution to the standoff with North Korea, McMaster said: "We're committed to a resolution. We want the resolution to be peaceful, but as [President Donald Trump] has said, all options are on the table.
"And we have to be prepared, if necessary, to compel the denuclearization of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime," he said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government.
McMaster called North Korea "a grave threat to all civilized people across the globe."
North Korea has carried out repeated nuclear and missile tests, violating UN Security Council resolutions and drawing international condemnation. It has boasted of developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the mainland United States.
Trump has threatened that the United States will destroy North Korea if provoked.
With reporting by BBC and Reuters