Graham: Seoul ‘undercutting’ Trump by allowing North Korea at Olympics
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that South Korea is “undercutting” President Trump’s moves to pressure North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons by allowing the isolated nation to attend the Winter Olympics next month.
“South Korea, they’re a great ally, they’re in a bad spot. But I think the signals that they’re sending to North Korea are undercutting what Trump’s trying to do. Which will make it more likely that we will build up military capability, not less,” the Senate Armed Services Committee member told attendees at the American Enterprise Institute.
North and South Korea announced Wednesday that athletes from their countries will march together at the opening ceremony of the Games and will also form a joint women’s ice hockey team.
Graham likened North Korea’s visit to the Games to the way Adolf Hitler used the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany to further his agenda by using “the largest stage in the world.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might believe his missile and nuclear weapons tests are not as unacceptable as international criticism has suggested, Graham argued.
“Here’s a simple rule: If you have the largest system of concentration camps in the world, if you systematically rape and torture your own people and you threaten the world with nuclear attack, you probably shouldn’t go to the Olympics,” Graham said.
“I think what Kim Jong Un’s going to see out of this is ‘How bad could I be? I’m going to the biggest party in the world, how bad could I be?’ ” he said.
Graham added: “If we can negotiate an end to this I’d be the happiest guy in the world.”
The Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, about 50 miles from the demilitarized zone between the North and South.
Trump said earlier this month that he wanted to see North Korea “involved” in the Olympics, though he has also repeatedly taunted Kim and the administration has imposed additional sanctions on Pyongyang.
Graham also called a potential war with North Korea “devastating,” and said he doesn’t believe a surgical strike — selectively striking certain sites to damage the North’s nuclear capabilities — is possible.
“When I say the military option is the resort I mean it,” he said. “Thousands of people could get killed.”
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