Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo offered assurances Sunday there was "nothing imminent" in the United States standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea but said he wouldn't be surprised if Pyongyang conducted another missile test.
On Friday, President Donald Trump sent a clear message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, stating that he "will truly regret it and he will regret it fast", if he carries out an attack on Guam or a U.S. ally.
Senior US national security officials have said a military confrontation with North Korea is not imminent, but they cautioned that the possibility of war is greater than it was a decade ago.
This AP file photo shows CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The missile tests last month demonstrated that the nuclear-armed regime now has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the USA mainland, experts said.
"The US military is locked and loaded every day", Mr McMaster said, repeating Mr Trump's threat.
Despite the increased tensions and the bellicose rhetoric from Trump and Kim, Pompeo said there was "nothing imminent" for people to worry about and that he had seen "no intelligence" that would indicate the two nations were on the cusp of nuclear war.
He said the United States intelligence community has "a pretty good idea" about what's going on in North Korea. "And we can't know, we don't understand, exactly what the decision making mechanisms are, processes surrounding Kim Jong-un in North Korea or what would set him off".
Also on Sunday, the top U.S. military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, travelled to South Korea. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him that he aims to "sense what the temperature is in the region".
He will also discuss military options in the event the "diplomatic and economic pressurisation campaign" fails.
"We're all looking to get out of this situation without a war", Dunford said.
Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States.
"We've seen the Chinese now say for among the first times that they believe the correct answer has to be a denuclearized peninsula", Pompeo said on "Fox News Sunday".
"When I served in Korea many years ago as the director of intelligence US forces in Korea, what I was anxious about was an incendiary event getting out of hand", he told Tapper.
US President Donald Trump on Saturday reassured Guam it was secure amid mounting regional tensions, vowing that American military forces "stand ready" to safeguard the US Pacific island territory against a belligerent North Korea.