Washington is minded to put on a big show of force against North Korea in joint exercises with South Korea in March as new President Donald Trump tries to position himself as tough on the enemies of America.
That could mean deploying a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and strategic bombers here around the time of the drills.
"U.S. military authorities are considering deploying strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula in preparation for a provocation by North Korea, including a possible test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile," a government source here said Tuesday.
"A concrete deployment plan is going to be fixed in February after a comprehensive review of the situation."
Trump spoke with acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn on the phone on Monday and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis with his South Korean counterpart Han Min-goo the following day.
The nuclear-powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis participated in last year's joint exercises. This year, the 93,000-ton supercarrier USS Carl Vinson fleet is expected to take part. It arrived in Asia Pacific waters last week after departing from San Diego, its home port, on Jan. 5.