Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday blamed President Barack Obama’s “failed” foreign policy for North Korea’s nuclear arms activities, with front-runner Donald Trump urging China to rein in its ally or face repercussions on trade.
North Korea said it tested a miniaturized hydrogen nuclear device on Wednesday on orders from leader Kim Jong Un, claiming a significant advance in its strike capability. Some analysts questioned whether it was indeed a test of a full-fledged hydrogen device.
Trump, the leader in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in the November election, said the United States was not doing enough to make China more accountable for North Korea’s actions.
“Nobody is talking to them whatsoever, and nobody is discussing it with China. China has total control, believe me. They say they don’t – they have total control over North Korea, and China should solve that problem,” Trump said on Fox News.
“And if they don’t solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult for China. … North Korea is totally under their control. Without China, they wouldn’t eat,” added Trump, who called Kim a madman.
Republican presidential candidates have called Obama’s foreign policy weak, also criticizing an agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear program and the U.S. response to crises in the Middle East, including Syria’s civil war and the rise of the Islamic State group.
“If this test is confirmed, it will be just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy,” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said in a statement late on Tuesday. Rubio was referring to Obama’s former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by,” Rubio said.
Other Republican candidates also weighed in.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky also advocated drawing on China’s influence on North Korea and possibly increasing sanctions on the isolated communist state. He told CNN it was important to identify what went wrong in nuclear negotiations with North Korea to avoid the same mistakes with Iran.
“There are no easy solutions,” Paul said. “You want me to magically wave a wand and all of a sudden their nuclear weapons are gone?”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cited a weak response from Obama and Clinton to North Korea’s previous nuclear tests, telling Fox News “they have just not acted strongly at all around the world.”