Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) on Sunday accused North Korea of misdirection in the lead up to a proposed summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
Rubio stated at the beginning of an interview on ABC’s "This Week" that the North Korean regime is "paranoid" and attached to its nuclear weapons in order to maintain its clout. To Rubio, the crux of the issue is whether the U.S. and other countries are prepared to coexist with a North Korean regime that has nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology.
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"Are you prepared to live in a world where someone like him possesses not just nuclear weapons, but the ability to hit the mainland of the United States? If you are not, you have to do something to go after him at some point," Rubio said, noting that he did not want to go to war with North Korea.
Still, he said Kim’s own intent to maintain his nuclear arsenal at all costs may end up igniting a military confrontation. Kim has spent years developing nuclear weapons and recently has tested the intercontinental ballistic missile technology necessary to strike the U.S.
"I'm not in favor of [military confrontation]. It is not something I relish or take lightly," Rubio said. "I'm telling you that could very well be the option we wind up with in the end because ultimately I remain convinced he does not want to denuclearize, and in fact he will not denuclearize."
Rubio also argued that Kim was disingenuously portraying himself as a reasonable negotiator to keep South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the table. With negotiations moving again after the North went quiet for weeks, Rubio dismissed anything fundamentally changed when Kim destroyed a test site in view of reporters.
"It’s all a show," he said about Kim releasing hostages and demolishing a testing site. "He released three Americans that were innocently there, blew up a facility that was probably already damaged with plenty of other facilities."
"The facility he blew up was a testing site. They can test it anywhere." Rubio said. "They don't have to have a town hall meeting in North Korea to decide whether to test weapons."
Rubio did credit Trump for the unorthodox way he has engaged Kim and tried to start negotiations.
"The president has given him a taste of his own medicine," Trump said. "It's a style we’ve never seen in a presidency before, but it seems to have at least knocked them off of balance.
"After all these years, North Korea has been used to dealing with traditional politicians and I give the president credit for that," Rubio said. "There has to be a deal."