A look at the U.S. military's options to confront North Korea

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President Trump on Thursday may have said, "I have pretty severe things that we're thinking about" with regards to North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, but military options are probably at the bottom of the list because of the reality that any military action could trigger an all-out war with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized to reporters Thursday that the administration is focused on diplomatic and economic sanctions efforts to deal with North Korea's ICBM launch. Mattis also discounted the possibility that North Korea's new missile capability Brings us closer to war".

And while diplomatic efforts to rein North Korea's missile program have so far proved unsuccessful, Mattis stressed that "diplomacy has not failed. As Churchill put it, it's better to jaw-jaw than war- war.” Below, ABC News takes a look at the limited military options the Trump administration might consider for North Korea in the future.

Pre-emptive Strike

North Korea's stated goal is to develop an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead towards the United States. North Korea's July 4 ICBM launch demonstrated it is making progress towards that goal since they can now reach Alaska. But it does not appear that North Korea has a miniaturized nuclear weapon small enough to place atop that ICBM or for that matter, aim it accurately at a target. But what if in the future North Korea develops that capability? The most likely option at that point would be a pre-emptive strike targeting North Korean missiles and nuclear facilities.

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