Washington: North Korea has the "ability to set Seoul on fire", a top US Senator said today as he blamed the successive Republican and Democratic administrations for falling prey to the secretive regime`s cycle of negotiations, aid and false hope that it would shun its atomic ambitions.
"This has been going on for decades, a cycle of confrontation, negotiation, aid and the false hope that somehow the North Koreans would give up their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them," Republican Senator John McCain told a news channel.
"Without that, North Korea is totally irrelevant. I mean, both Republican and Democrat administrations have fallen prey to this, well, if we give them food, if we give them oil, if we give them money, if we do this, then they will come around. And they take our money and run," he said.
"It was the Bush administration that they lifted sanctions, freed up a bank account that they had. Always we have been of the belief that somehow we can entice them into giving up this capability. They are not. They are not," he said.
"But can I just say, I don`t think they`re going to do anything more than their predecessors did. But they have greater capability and they don`t think like us, and they do have the ability to set Seoul on fire," McCain said.
The Arizona Senator also criticised China for doing nothing on North Korea, arguing only Beijing can influence North Korean behaviour.
"What did China do in response? Nothing. So what China needs to do is start squeezing their economy. Without China, their economy would collapse in a relatively short period of time," he said.
"China has got to start stepping up, whether it be on cyber security or we`ve identified a building in Beijing where these attacks have come from, or whether it be in the South China Sea where they are confrontational, or whether it be in the UN where they, along with Russia, veto efforts to rein in Bashar Assad. It is time now for China to step up," he said.
It is only a matter of time that the North Koreans have the capability to put a small nuclear device on top of a missile.
"There`s been other miscalculations by our intelligence agency, but have no doubt that they are on a path to achieving that capability. Look what they`ve achieved over the last 10, 15 years and also exported to other countries, including Iran," he said.
"So they are a danger. I think it`s a matter of time before they have that capability. Where they do not right now? It is not clear," McCain said.
North Korea, which conducted a series of missile tests in recent months, has threatened attack South Korea and the US with nuclear weapons, triggering a war-like situation in the Korean peninsula.