The US says it is urging China to use all its leverage to help rein in North Korea’s “destabilising” actions.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is in South Korea, where he is expected to call on China to evoke “a sense of urgency” in its talks with the North.
Pyongyang has ratcheted up tensions in the region, threatening nuclear strikes against South Korea and the US.
A leaked US intelligence report has said the North may now be capable of mounting nuclear warheads on a missile.
On Thursday, a US Congressman read out what he said was an unclassified section of a Defense Intelligence Agency study. He said it assessed “with moderate confidence” that the North could fire a nuclear-armed missile, though with “low reliability”.
The North has tested both nuclear weapons and missiles, but it had been thought it had not yet developed a device small enough to be a viable and deliverable weapon.
Such a development would change the past 20 years of diplomacy, says the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Seoul, all of which has been aimed at stopping North Korea from getting that sort of weapon.
But the Pentagon later denied the report, with spokesman George Little saying it would be “inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage”.
South Korea is currently on a high state of alert amid indications that the North is preparing for a missile test.
Pyongyang has moved two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast. Estimates of their range vary, but some suggest the missiles could travel 4,000km (2,500 miles).
That would put US bases on Guam within range, although it is not believed that the Musudan has been tested before.
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