President Donald Trump asserted today that China was working with the US on "the North Korea problem," after yesterday's failed missile launch.
US Vice President Mike Pence told American and South Korea service members that the North's latest "provocation," laid bare the risks they face.
While North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential escalated US response trailed Pence as he began a 10-day trip to Asia amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric.
Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster cited Trump's recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president "is clearly comfortable making tough decisions".
But at the same time, Mr McMaster said, "it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully".
In a broadcast interview that aired overnight, McMaster said the US would rely on its allies as well as on Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.
"I mean, North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese," McMaster said on US ABC's This Week.
The bottom line, McMaster said, is to stop North Korea's weapons development and make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free: "It's clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States. And our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people."
After a two-month policy review, officials settled on a policy dubbed "maximum pressure and engagement," US officials said on Saturday.
The administration's immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing.