U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hinted Monday that Washington retained military options against nuclear-armed North Korea that he said would not leave Seoul at risk of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Mattis declined to elaborate when pressed, according to a transcript of his remarks, but echoed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who said Sunday that there are "a whole lot of military options on the table."

"Ambassador Haley is correct," Mattis said. "There are many military options, in concert with our allies that we will take to defend our allies and our own interests."