China is the key to containing North Korea and its volatile President Kim Jong Un, and the United States needs to make it clear to China that there will be penalties involved if it does not "do the right thing," Sen. John McCain said Wednesday.
"They can restrain North Korea," the Arizona Republican and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman told Andrea Mitchell on her noon MSNBC program. "I think that we have to make it clear to China there will be penalties in our relationship with China unless they do the right thing and the right thing is to prevent this kind of crisis that has enormous consequences."
Sometimes, McCain continued "things happen by accident, and so I believe that China has to understand that the United States of America cannot live with a situation where North Korea has the kind of capability."
The United States has the capability of intercepting North Korea's missiles, he continued, "but you can't totally rely on that . . . just relying on that is not something that the American people will find acceptable."
There have been suggestions for the United States to impose secondary sanctions on China to block it from the world economy if it doesn't cut off its supply lines to North Korea, Mitchell said, and McCain agreed that would be "an option that should be immediately considered."
"Another is the imbalance between the United States and China as far as the ability to do business," the senator said. "There is a broad range of options that the Chinese have to understand, that this is just not some kind of adventure they can sit by and watch happen because of the consequences here. This is very serious."
A military option would be very dangerous, McCain said, because millions of people could be targeted in Seoul, South Korea, a result that would be "catastrophic."
"I think it has to be an option, but the last option," McCain said. "There are just too many things that the North Koreans can do, including this business of raining artillery and rockets onto the capital of Seoul. You can't take it off of the table, but you have to understand how serious consequences could be."
McCain said his advice would be to go back to China and make its government understand that North Korea is a threat to the United States, and "we expect them, as mature players and world leaders, to restrain North Korea, something they have not done in the past."
The senator also discussed reports that a Navy destroyer had had a close encounter with an Iranian warship on Monday, saying that the United STates needs to make it clear that if one of its ships is approached aggressively, "they will be shot down.
"Just establish certain parameters they cannot cross, and then if they cross, it's their problem, not ours," McCain said. "The greatest propaganda coup they had in many years was the pictures they blasted around the world of American sailors on their knees with hands clasped behind their neck and there was no response from the United States of America. There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Jim Mattis."
McCain also discussed the latest news about former National Security Agency Director Michael Flynn, who reportedly did not disclose money paid to him by the Russian and Turkish governments.
"I have said many times and I hate to be so repetitive, but this is a centipede and there will be more shoes to drop," he said. "I have seen these before and you too. There will be more revelations, there will be more and every time it is a more compelling argument for a select committee to examine all of the activities that took place. Farce the general not reporting, I assume that is correct because it has been authenticated by the members of the intelligence committee."
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