April 07, 2013

Sen. Graham: U.S. Must Lean on China to Curb North Korea

A “major war” could break out on the Korean peninsula unless the U.S. boosts pressure on China to deal with North Korea, Sen. Lindsey Graham  (R., S.C.) said Sunday.

Mr. Graham said South Korea is losing its tolerance and would respond if North Korea provokes its neighbor with an action like the strike on the South’s navy vessels in 2010.

“I think the North Koreans are overplaying their hand,” Mr. Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The politics in South Korea has changed. … That’s my biggest fear. If there’s a provocation, South Korea’s not going to take it anymore.”

The member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. needs to “up our game” with China to rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun. He said China doesn’t want a democratic Korea in its region. “I blame the Chinese more than anybody else,” he said. “They’re afraid of reunification.”

Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, said the U.S. is right to bolster its defense and deterrence measures in the region and hold South Korea “as close as possible” to reassure the nation that the U.S. will protect it. For that reason, the U.S. continued its annual military exercises with South Korea and also has worked with the nation on “extensive planning on how to deal with provocation” she said.

Ms. Flournoy said the key to resolving the brewing conflict is to force North Korea to comply with its international obligations. “We have to convince this new, young, inexperienced leader that he’s playing a losing hand,” she said.