North Korea crisis has Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain on edge

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It looks like North Korea just test-fired another ballistic missile and according to CNBC, the test failed. Veuer's Nick Cardona (@nickcardona93) has that story. Buzz60

Escalating tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and worries about the stability of its leader, Kim Jong Un, have the U.S. Senate on edge.

President Donald Trump  there's "a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea."

On Wednesday, the entire 100-member Senate got a briefing on the situation from the administration. On Friday, blew up in the air as Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson , Kim's benefactor, to do more to diffuse the crisis.

"I think everybody's concerned," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I would worry if an administration wasn't concerned, or if Congress wasn't concerned. This is not a normal situation. I do hope China plays a bigger role, but there's no guarantee that they can rein him in."

Kim is worrisome "mostly because you don't know if this is a rational actor or not," Flake said. "We don't know if he has the same kind of cost-benefits analysis that most leaders do."

Sen. John McCain, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, has repeatedly characterized Kim . McCain, R-Ariz., discussed the threat on the Korean Peninsula Thursday  Thursday on the posture of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

"Kim Jong-Un’s regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. And unfortunately, the regime is making real progress," McCain said in his opening remarks for the meeting. "A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical, but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict."

In an interview Thursday with CBS This Morning, McCain said if it were up to him, a confirmed nuclear-loaded missile on a launch pad probably would be enough to merit a U.S. military strike.

in which that scenario was discussed, McCain said, "Frankly, there's no good option" beyond persuading China "to crack down on them and force them to stop this."

"And China can control North Korea if they want to," he said. "They control their economy. That's the easiest way to get this resolved."

McCain said he has been told the U.S. missile defense system theoretically could intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile fired by North Korea. But there is no guarantee.

"I want to emphasize that to rely on that capability is a risk that I don't think this president, or any other president, would take," McCain told The Republic. "There's always the risk of missing."

Flake said it's his understanding that North Korea is a couple of years away from being able to hit Hawaii or the West Coast with a nuclear missile. But the North Korean threat to nearby Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is immediate.

If Trump decides to drop the hammer on North Korea, Seoul could bear the brunt of any retaliation.

"They can hit Seoul with rockets or missiles or artillery," Flake said. " ... It's too much and it's too close. There would obviously be high casualties. You don't know if you're going to provoke that by responding to their tests or whatever. That's one of the things that the administration has to weigh."

Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter. Follow him on Twitter at and on .

Article North Korea crisis has Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain on edge compiled by www.azcentral.com

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