PHOENIX — President Donald Trump said Friday that North Korea had “disrespected” China by attempting to launch another ballistic missile.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had dinner with Trump on Monday, said the President missed the point a bit.
“This could be a Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion,” McCain said in an interview Sunday morning on CNN. “I disagreed with the President’s tweet about North Korea by continuing to test, ‘disrespecting’ China — they disrespected us.”
North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations because they’re seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the U.S. mainland.
North Korea has continued to test missiles, but according to the U.S. and South Korea, they have failed at launch.
Trump has said he is counting on Chinese President Xi Jinping to encourage North Korea to give up its pursuit of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
McCain said on Sunday that China has the power to change what happens moving forward.
“The key to this is China and if the Chinese can put the brakes on this,” McCain said. “I do not believe that Kim Jong-un is going to do that by himself. I don’t think he’s irrational but I don’t think he’s concerned about the welfare of his people, to say the least.”
McCain sees it as imperative that the U.S. work with the Chinese to let them know how important it is that North Korea needs to be stopped in testing missiles.
Convincing foreign leaders may be harder to do as contradictory statements have come from the U.S. to other countries, most recently when the national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the U.S. would pay for South Korea’s missile defense system shortly after Trump said he thinks South Korea should pay for it.
“I tell (foreign leaders) that (Trump) has surrounded himself with an outstanding national security team,” McCain said. “I can’t guarantee to world leaders that he will always listen to them, but he has so far…sometimes it’s important to watch what the president does rather than what he says.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.