Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says President Donald Trump is ready for war with North Korea if the rogue nation doesn’t cease its development of a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States.
“He has told me that. I believe him,” Graham said on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday. “If I were China, I would believe him, too, and do something about it.”
Host Matt Lauer said military experts believe there is no good military option for handling North Korea. Graham insisted those experts were wrong.
“There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself,” Graham said, adding that he prefers a diplomatic solution.
The White House did not respond to Graham’s comments about North Korea; however, Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that “all options are on the table.”
On Sunday, South Korea said that Pyongyang may be gearing up for either another missile launch or a nuclear test. The warning came just days after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, which landed in the Sea of Japan.
Graham urged North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to back off while he still can, as continuing to develop these weapons would make a war “inevitable.”
“You’re making our president pick between regional stability and homeland security. He’s having to make a choice that no president wants to make. They’ve kicked the can down the road for 20 years, there’s no place else to kick it. There will be a war with North Korea over their missile program if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM.”
Graham also tried to sound an odd note of reassurance, claiming that such a war wouldn’t kill Americans at home.
“If there’s going to be a war to stop (Kim), it will be over there,” he said. “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here, and [Trump’s] told me that to my face.”
Graham insisted that Trump doesn’t want a war, but is willing to engage in one to stop Pyongyang’s missile development.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suggested that Graham might not have the best information on the topic.
“Lindsey Graham should get a classified briefing, like the ones I have had, and sit down with Secretary (James) Mattis, which I have done,” Feinstein told MSNBC on Tuesday. “It is all classified. But we know much more about these weapons and where they are and what the difficulties are, and that’s all I can say.”
She also responded via Twitter:
At least one expert panned Graham’s comments.
“This is madness,” wrote Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. “Unhinged madness.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also called on North Korea to engage in more diplomacy.
“We are not your enemy, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond,” Tillerson said, per Reuters. “And we hope that at some point they will begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them.”
He added that a precondition of such dialogue was North Korea surrendering its nuclear ambitions.