Sen. John McCain tells Newsmax that the risk of a conflict with North Korea is the greatest in decades, and says the North Koreans won’t give up their nuclear weapons “unless they are forced to.”
The Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential candidate also says he is “deeply disappointed” in China on several fronts, maintains that serious immigration reform won’t be implemented until the border is 90 percent secure, and insists background checks on gun purchasers do not violate the Second Amendment.
McCain was first elected in 1986 and is a member of the Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, McCain declares that the risks of a clash with North Korea “are higher during this confrontation — and we’ve had several over the past 20 or 30 years — because the North Koreans continue to make progress on their development, not only of the [nuclear] weapons, which they’ve tested, but also on the delivery systems.
“There’s now controversy among the intelligence community as to how far along they are. Once they have a weapon that’s small enough and a missile that’s reliable enough, then obviously they can pose a threat to not only the nations in the region but certainly Guam. So the danger is greater.
“As far as accidental wars being started, history is replete with wars having been started when people never thought they would. This guy, this young man Kim Jong Un, does not think like us. That’s very obvious. So to assume that he is capable of totally rational behavior is a very great leap of the imagination.
“We have been through a series over the years of confrontation, negotiation, incentives such as food, fuel, even outright lifting of sanctions under the Bush administration, in the hopes that the North Koreans would abandon their nuclear weapons. Now the latest Secretary of State John Kerry said, well, we’ll have direct negotiations towards having them abandon their nuclear weapons.
“One thing I am sure of is they will not abandon their nuclear weapons because it’s what makes them relevant in the world today. If they didn’t have nuclear weapons, we wouldn’t really care, although we would care about the 200,000 people that are incarcerated in the world’s worst gulag and the torture and murder that goes on routinely there.
“I do not approve of this idea of John Kerry’s that maybe we’ll make some concessions for them if they have ‘direct talks.’ We’ve had direct talks, indirect talks, five nations, two nations, three nations, whatever, but the fact is we’ve got to recognize the stark reality that North Korea will not give up their nuclear weapons unless they are forced to.”
Asked if he is optimistic that China will reign in North Korea, McCain responds: “I’m very disappointed in China so far. Very disappointed, deeply disappointed.
“I’m disappointed in China’s confrontational attitude toward the South China Sea. I’m deeply disappointed in their continued cyber-attacks, which we have traced back to a building in Beijing, and certainly disappointed that they continue to support a veto of any United Nations sanctions on Bashar Assad in Syria. China is not living up to their position as a great world power.”
McCain is working along with Sen. Marco Rubio and others in Congress to construct comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which is expected to be introduced on Tuesday.
Under that legislation, the 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally “are granted a permanent legal status if they pay back taxes, learn English, and understand that when it comes time for green card status, they will get in line behind everyone else,” McCain tells Newsmax.
“That green card status process will not begin until we have a secure border, exit-entry visa capability, and e-verify, in other words documentary proof for employers who hire people and 90 percent effective control of the border, and that is quite a long time before we have achieved all those goals.”
As for allegations that the legislation would amount to amnesty for illegals, McCain says: “I’m afraid that there will always be some [who oppose the bill]. We do not expect a unanimous vote on this, but we do expect a very large expression of support because the majority of the American people think it’s fair.
“As long as these people who are here illegally get to the back of the line behind those who came here legally, or seek to come here legally for green card status, most Americans will approve of that process. But they also have every right to expect a secure border.”
McCain has broken ranks with GOP leadership and expressed his support for gun control legislation that includes expanded background checks on weapons purchasers.
“Our goal is to keep the weapons out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally incapable of having such responsibility and pose a threat to our society,” he explains.
“Background checks are an important aspect of this, without violating the Second Amendment and the privacy rights of American citizens.
“I still have some questions about the Internet trafficking aspect of this issue, but overall it’s a good framework for us to move forward on.”
McCain has also expressed praise for President Obama’s budget, saying it contains signs of compromise.
“The president’s willingness to take on the far left of his party by saying that there would be some aspects of entitlement reform, although clearly in my view almost token, is at least a step in the right direction,” McCain says.
“It’s important. It’s part of this outreach that the president is doing. Now whether the president is actually serious will be shown when we get down to hard negotiations. Everybody knows we cannot continue the path that we are on because things are going to collapse. We can’t continue to have $1 trillion in debt every year. I hope the president is serious about sitting down and negotiating.
“On this issue of revenues, if I could just mention, we have things called sugar subsidies where a couple of families grow sugar in this country and have all kinds of subsidies, and it costs the American people who use sugar a much larger amount than they otherwise should have to pay. So if doing away with sugar subsidies is an ‘increase in revenue,’ count me in.
“There are many other tax loopholes and provisions in the tax code that have been carved out by special interests who have clout here on Capitol Hill that I would do away with in a New York minute. When we say ‘revenues’ it depends on what kind of revenues you’re talking about, and I am opposed to increasing people’s taxes.”
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