Senators who were briefed at the White House on Wednesday about the situation with North Korea said they learned "very little" during the all-hands meeting - with some claiming it lacked "even straight answers" about President Trump's ongoing plans.
"What you've seen is a really integrated effort to prioritize diplomatic and informational aspects of national power", the senior administration official said.
This week, Trump has discussed North Korea with United Nations ambassadors, increased the US military presence in the region, and leaned on China to pressure Pyongyang.
At the beginning of the White House session, he and Vice President Pence gave a brief address before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took turns speaking to the senators.
That official, who insisted on speaking without attribution, demurred when asked to explain what he meant by "military preparations."
Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea's unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
Lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, have said his presidency has been marked by a lack of communication with Congress, partly because the administration has been slow to fill key posts and partly because Trump has been slow to develop policy positions.
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"We remain open to negotiations to towards that goal", they reportedly told the senators. "However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our Allies".
Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Coons, D-Del., called it a "sobering meeting".
"North Korea is a big world problem", Mr. Trump said. New policies under consideration are imposing so-called secondary sanctions on North Korea that would be created to cut off supplies of missile and nuclear goods from places such as China and Russian Federation.
"The Administration's decision to hold this top-secret briefing at the White House indicates the seriousness of the threat", he said in a statement.
The statement may also shed some light on the classified briefing Senators received at the White House on Wednesday about the hermit kingdom. "The same can be said of the USA", a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
He said: "In confronting the reckless North Korean regime, it's critical that we're guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily".