US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said on Monday US military options being prepared against Pyongyang would be for when diplomatic and economic sanctions failed as China said it will halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea this week.
Dunford made the comments to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a 50-minute meeting to discuss recent issues including North Korean provocation, office spokesman Park Su-hyun told a media briefing.
Dunford was in Seoul speaking to South Korean military officials, including Defense Minister Song Young-moo. He was due to leave South Korea later on Monday and will make stops in China and Japan this week.
Tension has increased in recent months over concern that North Korea is close to achieving its goal of putting the mainland United States within range of a nuclear weapon.
North Korea and the United States exchanged threats of military action last week, with Pyongyang saying it will develop a plan to strike the US Pacific territory of Guam.
China’s decision on Monday followed through on new UN sanctions after US pressure for Beijing to strongarm Pyongyang over its ally’s nuclear program.
Beijing had pledged to fully enforce the latest sanctions after Washington accused China of not doing enough to rein in its neighbor, which relies heavily on the Asian giant for its economic survival.
The Chinese commerce ministry said on its website that all imports of coal, iron, iron ore and seafood will be “completely prohibited” from Tuesday. Beijing had already announced a suspension of coal imports in February.
The United Nations Security Council, including permanent member Beijing, approved tough sanctions against Pyongyang on August 6 that could cost the hermetic country $1 billion a year.