Military action against North Korea remains an option should Pyongyang “initiate hostilities,” Defense Secretary James Mattis reiterated on Thursday, when asked about White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s quoted view that “there’s no military solution” to the standoff with Kim Jong-un.

“I can just assure you that in close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if DPRK initiates hostilities,” Mattis told reporters at the State Department, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Stalinist state’s formal name.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, standing alongside Mattis and their Japanese counterparts, also reaffirmed that any diplomatic effort in response to the threat of the type posed by the regime “has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly.”

“And I think that is the message that the president has wanted to send to the leadership of North Korea, and it was really in response to this ever-escalating levels of threat and rhetoric that were coming from the regime in Pyongyang,” he added.

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