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John McCain on President Trump’s North Korea Threat: ‘I Don’t Know What He’s Saying’

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John McCain took aim at President Trump’s recent fiery rhetoric on North Korea, claiming his words will only ratchet up the heat for a possible confrontation.

Following a Washington Post report that North Korea now has a warhead that can fit inside its missiles, the President issued a stark warning, stating while on vacation at his golf course in New Jersey that if the country makes any more threats to the United States, “they will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”

“I take exception to the President’s comments because you gotta be able to do what you say you’re gonna do,” the Arizona Senator told KTAR radio Tuesday, in an appearance with his daughter Meghan. “I don’t think that’s a way you attack an issue and a challenge like this.”

McCain said he was unsure if that rhetoric constituted a threat of military action, but said that most previous presidents wouldn’t make a threat unless they were ready to act.

“I don’t know what he’s saying and I’ve long ago given up trying to interpret what he says,” the Senator told KTAR. “It’s not terrible but it’s kind of the classic Trump in that he overstates things.” He noted, however, that Trump’s remarks could be pivotal in escalating a confrontation with North Korea, which could ultimately endanger South Korea in what he said could be a catastrophic scenario.

“They have 1,000 rockets aimed at Seoul that could set that city on fire,” he said.

Were he advising the President on this issue, McCain said, he would tell Trump to speak with the Chinese and accelerate the United States’ anti missile defense capabilities.

“The key to this is China,” McCain said.

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com