Almost as quickly as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol mentioned last week that his nation might need to acquire nuclear weapons, his office clarified that he had no plans to actually do so.

The U.S. also batted away questions from reporters about the remark, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterating South Korea’s clarification, while saying the two nations are moving forward on "improvements in extended deterrence capabilities.”

But as much as the two governments don’t want to talk about it, Yoon’s comment — given in an official policy briefing on Jan. 11 to South Korea’s defense and foreign ministries — shows underlying tensions between the longstanding allies over how best to respond to North Korea’s rapidly improving nuclear capabilities. Kim Jong Un tested a record number of ballistic missiles last year and recently vowed an "exponential increase” in the country’s atomic weapons.