Among the options under consideration are the destruction of one of North Korea’s missile launch sites, while weapons stockpiles may also be targeted.
Any military action would be designed to warn the North Korean regime that the US is “serious” about putting an end to the series of missile and nuclear tests which has prompted major fears among neighbouring countries.
One former US security official briefed on policy told the Telegraph: “The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious.”
The US has been gradually building up its military presence over recent months and it now appears Washington could call upon its assets in the region to launch a debilitating attack on the regime.
It is thought that by attacking the missile test site or weapons stockpiles, the loss of life would be minimised and it could force Kim to come to the negotiating table.
President Trump has repeatedly refused to take military action off the table and while his administration has always called for diplomacy, the increasing sophistication of Pyongyang’s arsenal has sparked fresh con ferns about the regime’s ability to strike anywhere in the world.
One UK source who recently left a briefing with Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, feeling alarmed.
The source told the Telegraph: “The Americans said deterrence doesn’t work against North Korea and negotiation doesn’t work.
“Those who heard them left with the impression that military action is very much an option they were considering seriously.”
She said: “The White House very strongly believes that either North Korea will agree to give up its nuclear weapons or we will launch a preventative attack to destroy them.
“I would put the odds of them actually carrying that out at three in 10. Other policy experts say it is four in ten.”