DONALD Trump is considering “utterly destroying” Kim Jong-un’s nuclear sites, according to one of the President’s closest military advisers.
A source told British diplomats that America could launch pre-emptive strikes and has the firepower to smash North Korea’s nuclear program.
President Trump wants to heap pressure on China by making it clear that the US will take military action against the secretive country.
The report came the same day as a failed ballistic missile test by the rogue state.
A former official in the Bush administration, who is privy to the Pentagon battle plans, said: “Trump is pushing the Chinese hard, but in his gut he ultimately feels he will have to take a strong step himself.
“There are plans to destroy the missile sites and the military have strong confidence in what they know.
“They wouldn’t launch a pre-emptive strike if there is an underground nuclear explosion but they would if the president thought they were launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.”
Tensions have reached boiling point in the region after an armada of US warships arrived in Korea waters including aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.
The US air force’s chief of staff General David Goldfein posted a picture of the US warplanes along with the caption: “Fight’s on!”
PENCE CALLS MISSILE LAUNCH A ‘PROVOCATION’
US vice-president Mike Pence has travelled to South Korea and told reporters the US would help its allies in the region bring “freedom” to the Korean peninsula.
He branded Pyongyang’s failed missile launch a “provocation”.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Mr Trump signalled in an early morning tweet that his administration was working with China to deal with the rogue state.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Mr Trump wrote.
“We will see what happens!” he added.
Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017
His tweet echoed his national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said on Sunday that an international consensus that includes China has now emerged that North Korea’s “threatening behaviour” cannot go on.
Mr McMaster said: “I think there’s an international consensus now, including — including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership — that this is a situation that just can’t continue.”
Speaking from Afghanistan on US ABC, he made a point of stating several times that China — North Korea’s key ally — is now concerned about the reclusive communist state’s behaviour.
SHORTEN URGES CHINA TO TAKE BIGGER ROLE
Meanwhile, Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten waded in to the regional crisis saying China should exert “influence” over North Korea following revelations of the failed missile test.
Mr Shorten also told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday he was grateful for the “strong presence” of the United States in the Pacific region. “We do need, I think, countries in the region, including China, to exert what influence they have on North Korea,” he said.
Kim Jong-un enraged the US by staging yet another ballistic missile test on Sunday which was an embarrassing flop after exploding on launch.
South Korea’s military reported the attempt near the Sinpo region, the same area from which the North tested a ballistic missile last month.
The incident is likely to escalate the rising tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s rogue nuclear weapons ambitions.
It came a day after the parade marking 105 years since the state’s found Kim Il-sung was born.
North Korea has tested several missiles recently.
They launched a long-range rocket and conducted two nuclear tests last year, including its most powerful to date, as well as carrying out a slew of shorter range missile firings.
A smirking Kim Jong-un watched a fervent military parade just hours after telling America: “We’re ready for war.”
US SHOCKED BY KIM’S MILITARY HARDWARE
Chief among the devastating arsenal on show during the parade was a KN-08 rocket, thought to be capable of flying more than 7,000 miles — within range of Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.
US military experts reacted with shock to the display, as one admitted “we’re floored right now”.
Shell-shocked North Korean experts admit the secretive nation now appears far more advanced than previously thought.
Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, told The Wall Street Journal: “We’re totally floored right now. I was not expecting to see this many new missile designs.”
Also on display was the similarly devastating KN-14 rocket.
Thousands of heavily-armed North Koreans marched through capital Pyongyang alongside the missiles as the smiling despot lapped up the adoration of his fanatical military — many reduced to tears by his mere presence.
Only hours earlier a top general had told state TV: “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war.”
North Korean military official Choe Ryong-Hae said: “If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with [an] annihilating strike … with our style of nuclear strike warfare.”
Choe’s menacing words carried extra threat given many Western commentators consider him the country’s second-in-command.