McCain downplays threat of pre-emptive strike against North Korea

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe electoral reality that the media ignores Kelly's lead widens to 10 points in Arizona Senate race: poll COVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks MORE (R-Ariz.) said early Sunday that he doesn't think President Trump is planning a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

“I don't think so, Jake,” McCain told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

McCain, who had dinner with Trump last week, said a pre-emptive strike should be a last resort because South Korea’s highly populated capital, Seoul, is located near the border with its increasingly hostile northern neighbor. 

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“I think that we have to consider that option as the very last option. And for a number of reasons, and one of the reasons is because there's artillery on the [demilitarized zone] that can strike Seoul, a city of 26 million people, and the carnage would be horrendous,” McCain continued.

McCain said China is "key" to putting “the brakes on this” because North Korean leader Kim Jong Un won’t stop on his own.  

“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 added.

McCain has called for a $7.5 billion fund to bulk up the U.S.’s military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region amid growing tensions with North Korea.

McCain's request comes after Pyongyang has attempted to launch multiple missiles as well as public shows of force.