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Mattis: 'Accelerated' North Korea threat makes US-South Korea cooperation urgent

Mattis: 'Accelerated' North Korea threat makes US-South Korea cooperation urgent

Still, he warned Pyongyang that its military was no match for the U.S. "Any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming".

Trump has pressed China to help rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

The tension in the border is building up as North Korean Foreign Minister threatened last month while visiting NY for the UN General Assembly that his country will not hesitate using hydrogen bomb, hours after US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in a speech to the UN.

It has backed US -led United Nations sanctions on North Korea following a series of prohibited arms tests, some of which coincided with this year's political events deemed highly important for Xi.

Mattis, too, said Kim's behavior had left no room to imagine accepting Pyongyang's nuclear status.

General Mattis told reporters: "I cannot imagine a condition under which the U.S. can accept North Korea as a nuclear power".

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China has been irked by North Korea's defiant pursuit of nuclear and missile technologies.

"Today's sanctions target the North Korean military and regime officials", U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"The United States and South Korea have a common goal of stopping provocations and encouraging North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons", Moon said.

Mattis' South Korea counterpart Song Young-moo credited the partnership between the United States and South Korea for defeating the spread of communism during the Cold War and for deterring North Korea at a critical point in time.

"Defending against this many LRAs (long-range artillery) is infeasible in my opinion", Song told Mattis at the DMZ, citing a need for strategies to "offensively neutralize" the artillery in the event of a conflict.

He was in the South Korea capital for annual defence talks between the two allies. Mattis, who has made such assurances in the past, did not disclose what those options were.