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Sen. Lindsey Graham: China is telling North Korea ‘run the clock out’ on nuke talks with US

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaking with attendees at the 2015 Iowa Growth & Opportunity Party at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
August 02, 2018

A U.S. senator has warned that China is preventing the U.S. and North Korea from reaching a resolution in denuclearization talks.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, during which he said he thinks China is “trying to run the clock out.”

“I think the only reason we are moving forward with North Korea is that President Trump convinced China and North Korea he was serious about them giving up their nuclear program. In return they’ll have security prosperity,” he said.

“Having the remains returned to the United States is much appreciated by the families in the country as a whole. But we’re looking for complete irreversible, verifiable denuclearization. I fear that North Korea and China are trying to run the clock out. China has pulled North Korea back because we’re in a trade dispute with China,” he explained.

Graham added that President Trump should continue pressuring North Korea and China, and remain firm in the possibility of using military force to block their nuclear programs.

“I think China is undercutting President Trump when it comes to North Korea. But I think North Korea believes that President Trump will not allow them to develop the capability to hit the American homeland with a nuclear weapon. He has set his policy in stone. Complete, verifiable, irreversible,” Graham said.

China has supported North Korea’s nuclear weaponization efforts in the past. With tensions between China and the U.S., it’s unlikely that China would take the side of the U.S. in the talks.

Last month, Graham said he believed China was attempting to use North Korea to persuade the U.S. to ease tariffs against China.

When President Trump met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in June, he did so by excluding China from the negotiations, and the agreement that the two leaders signed.

Despite the U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear efforts, China increased economic investment in North Korea, as well as importations of North Korean laborers and metals.

“Iran is watching, Russia is watching. The only way it will get there is to put a deadline on this. President Trump said he wanted this to happen in his first term. I see the timeline slipping. That worries me,” Graham said.

He credits the President’s strength in the eyes of U.S. adversaries for the progress he’s made in negotiations.

“You have to stay strong,” Graham said. “I don’t want a war with North Korea. But if there’s going to be one, it’s going to be in China’s backyard, not America’s backyard, and I hope China understands that.”