US prepared to 'utterly destroy' N Korea nuclear sites - report

In the wake of a failed nuclear test by North Korea, the US is prepared to "utterly destroy" several key nuclear sites, sources told a UK newspaper.

A senior source told The Times the US had the firepower to cripple North Korea's nuclear programme, amidst rising tensions.

US national security advisor HR McMaster said the country is working with its allies to "develop a range of options".

"The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons," he said.

A senior British source told The Times the US was prepared to do "anything it takes" to neutralise the threat.

"Nothing is off the table. They think they've got the capabilities to target things and utterly destroy them. They are confident they know where everything is and can target it efficiently."

On Sunday (NZ time) North Korea threatened its own pre-emptive strike against the US.

"If the US comes with reckless military manoeuvres, then we will confront it with the DPRK's pre-emptive strike," North Korean vice foreign minister Han Song-ryol said.