The Prime Minister is backtracking on his suggestion that New Zealand could possibly join the United States and Australia in defending South Korea if war broke out with North Korea.
Amid rising tensions about North Korea's threats to South Korea, Mr Key, who is visiting China where he met President Xi Jinping on Sunday, said that the actions of North Korea are overly provocative.
He said New Zealand has a long and proud history of coming to the support of South Korea and taken to the extreme, and without interventions and resolutions to the issues, war is of course possible.
But a Radio New Zealand political reporter in China says Mr Key has been quick to shut down further examination of what he meant and what kind of commitment New Zealand would make in the event of war.
Mr Key said what he said was that if the situation got to the extreme, New Zealand would consider its position.
Reservations held by Greens
Green Party co leader Russel Norman says the last thing New Zealand needs is for the Prime Minister to go to China and talk about war on the Korean peninsula.
Dr Norman told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday any response in Korea should be done through an international framework run by the United Nations.
In an apparent reference to the United States, Dr Norman said New Zealand should not go where the Lone Ranger goes.