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Sanders warns of possible nuclear war with North Korea

President Trump's Thursday assertion that a "major, major conflict" between the U.S. and North Korea is possible is essentially a warning of a potential nuclear war, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSocially-distanced 'action figure' photo of G7 leaders goes viral Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale MORE (I-Vt.) said Friday.

"When you're talking about a 'major, major conflict,' what you're talking about is a nuclear war," Sanders said on CBS's "This Morning." "Obviously, I think the goal now is to work as strongly as we can with China.

"China is, I think, receives about 80 percent of the exports from North Korea. They are in a position to tighten the screws on North Korea and tell them they cannot continue their missile program or their nuclear program."

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In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Trump warned of the possibility of a "major, major conflict" with North Korea, saying that, while his administration would pursue a peaceful solution to ongoing tensions with the country, it would be "very difficult."

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump said.

"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he added.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have escalated in recent weeks amid increased concerns over the reclusive nation's advancing weapons program. Earlier this month, the U.S. announced that it would send a Navy strike group into the west Pacific near the Korean Peninsula in an attempt to deter Pyongyang's aggression.

But North Korea quickly condemned the move as an act of aggression and threatened a nuclear strike if provoked. The ongoing back-and-forth between the U.S. and North Korea has put allies in the region on high alert.