President Donald Trump has warned of military action "should North Korea act unwisely".
Trump tweeted this morning:
"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path."
The news comes following Donald Trump's demands that Kim Jong Un's government "get their act together" or they will be in trouble "like few nations have ever been".
The US president said his previous "fire and fury" warning to Pyongyang might have been too mild and "maybe that statement wasn't tough enough".
Speaking to reporters in New Jersey, Mr Trump said North Korea has been "getting away with a tragedy that can't be allowed".
But he declined to say whether the US is considering a pre-emptive military strike, arguing that his administration never discusses such deliberations publicly.
Mr Trump spoke after North Korea intensified its own rhetoric by announcing a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to US bombers.
That announcement had been a response to Mr Trump's threat that the North would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatened the US again.
Mr Trump said it is time somebody stood up to the pariah nation.
Flanked by US vice president Mike Pence, Mr Trump said:
"North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble. It may very well be tougher than I said."
Mr Trump spoke after meeting with national security advisers at the golf resort where he is on holiday. He said the US "of course" would always consider negotiations with NorthKorea, but added that talks with North Korea have failed for the last 25 years.
He said that China, North Korea's biggest trading partner, needs to do more to apply pressure - and predicted that it will.
The threatened attack near Guam, if carried out, would be the North Korea's most provocative missile launch to date. North Korea said it is finalising a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 US military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000.
Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if North Korea were to go through with the plan. Mr Trump added his voice on Thursday, insisting that if North Korea took any steps to even think about an attack, it would have reason to be nervous.
"Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?" Mr Trump said. Of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr Trump added: "He's been pushing the world around for a long time."
North Korea said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, could be sent to leader Kim for approval within a week or so. It would be up to Kim whether the move is actually carried out. But the extreme specificity of the plan suggested it was designed to show North Korea is actually plotting a launch.
The report said the Hwasong-12 rockets would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures in Japan and travel "1,065 seconds before hitting the waters 30 to 40 kilometres away from Guam". It said the Korean People's Army Strategic Force will finalise the plan by mid-August, present it to Kim Jong Un and "wait for his order".
"We keep closely watching the speech and behaviour of the US," it said.
It is unclear whether - or exactly why - North Korea would risk firing missiles so close to US territory. Such a launch would almost compel the United States to attempt an intercept and possibly generate further escalation.
North Korea, no stranger to bluffing, frequently uses extremely bellicose rhetoric with warnings of military action to keep its adversaries on their heels. It generally couches its threats with language stating it will not attack the United States unless it has been attacked first or has determined an attack is imminent.