McCain: North Korea 'first real test' for Trump

How President Trump responds to North Korea’s push to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the United States could be the “first real test” of his administration, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBottom Line Beyond Manafort: Both parties deal with pro-Russian Ukrainians With help from US, transformative change in Iran is within reach MORE (R-Ariz.) said Sunday.

If North Korea were to fire a missile at the U.S., “we would have to rely on our ability to intercept it, and by the way, I’m told that we do have that ability,” McCain told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Still, awfully risky business.”

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said pursuing a diplomatic solution would be the preferred approach.

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“China is the key,” McCain said. “They can stop this if they want to, because of their control over the North Korean economy.”

Another option: The U.S. could take military action to wipe out North Korea’s nuclear facilities, but this could provoke the country to retaliate, McCain warned. North Korea has a number of smaller missiles aimed at South Korea that it could deploy.

“There are artillery on the border between North and South Korea that can reach Seoul, and we can’t take them all out before [they launch an attack],” McCain said.

This puts pressure on Trump to team up with China on a diplomatic response to North Korea’s growing nuclear ambitions.

“This may be the first test of this presidency,” McCain said. “But China can shut them down. Whether they’re currency manipulators or not, we should expect them to act to prevent what could be a cataclysmic event.”