June 22, 2009

On CBS's Face the Nation, John McCain is asked how the United States should react if North Korea refuses to allow the United States' Navy to board their vessel with a suspicious cargo. Bob Schieffer failed to ask McCain to address what he'd recommend doing if North Korean troops started pouring into South Korea in retaliation, if the United States followed the Senator's advice.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Point well taken.

Let’s talk about North Korea. What do you think the North Koreans are up to here? I mean, it seems like every time we make an overture to North Korea, nothing happens. It seems to get worse. Now we have, we’re told, a North Korean vessel with a suspicious cargo headed out. A U.S. ship, the USS John McCain , which is named for your father and your grandfather, is on patrol to intercept that ship, apparently. But what happens? The U.N. resolution says that they may try to stop that ship and ask permission to come aboard. What happens if they don’t give permission?

MCCAIN: Well, that’s the $64 question here, Bob. What happens if the ship doesn’t give them permission to board? And any ship, North Korean ship that has missiles or equipment or nuclear technology on board probably isn’t going to give that permission. And I might add that in recent testimony last week before Congress, our leaders testified that there is North Korean and Iranian cooperation on nuclear weapons and proliferation.

MCCAIN: So the Security Council measure is a half measure. It’s inadequate because right now apparently that ship may be going into a port at Myanmar, or if it went to any other unfriendly nation, then the course of action to be taken is to quote report it to the Security Council.

SCHIEFFER: Should we report it anyway?

MCCAIN: If we have hard evidence that that ship is carrying technology equipment missiles that are in gross violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, I think we should board it. It’s going to contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to rogue nations that pose a direct threat to the United States.

Now I would like for the United States to go back to the Security Council. But most of all, I’d like for China to step in and do what is in China’s interest not to have a nuclear armed aggressive Korea and a Japan which it will have to feel it will have to be nuclear armed and other nations in the region. It is in China’s interest -- China is the country that really has the influence and finally, as you know, there seems to be some transition of power which is always a very, very dangerous time where regimes of this sort are concerned.

SCHIEFFER: That brings us to part two of what’s unfolding here is that ship is making its way there. The North Koreans have suggested they may fire some missiles into the Pacific. The secretary of defense has put missile interceptors in Hawaii. He’s put a ship out there to track it on radar. Do you really think the North Koreans might fire a missile at Hawaii?

MCCAIN: I’m not sure they would fire it directly at Hawaii. Predicting North Korean behavior -- I’ll predict a lot of things but not that. But I think they might launch it into the area. It goes over Japan. How would we feel if a country such as North Korea were doing that over the United States? This is a very dangerous business.

SCHIEFFER: So what do we need to do here? Nothing we have done so far seems to have slowed them down at all.

MCCAIN: I would love to tell you we’ll get more cooperation from the U.N. Security Council but that’s a bit too optimistic to say the least. China has to understand that North Korea is a vital element in our relations and it is in China’s natural interest. We’re not asking for an act of charity. They control their economy. They control a whole lot of things. Really they’re the only nation that has influence. It should be a fundamental and vital aspect of our relations with China. And we should continue to work through the normal channels such as the U.N. It’s a very dangerous game that they’re engaged in.

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