McCain on N. Korea: "A Groundhog Day exercise"

(CBS News) Senator John McCain said Sunday that North Korea's launch of a long-range missile is part of a repetitive cycle that the United States has endured for two decades.

"For twenty years now we've been going through this Groundhog Day exercise," McCain told host Bob Schieffer. "Confrontation, followed by negotiations, followed by aid, followed by confrontation. I mean, it is remarkable how many times we have seen this movie."

North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, launched a long-range missile Thursday night, but the mission failed as the rocket broke apart approximately 90 seconds after take-off.

Despite the missile's failure, McCain said the Koreans continue to push forward on their quest for a nuclear weapon.

"Meanwhile, the North Koreans continue to make progress," McCain said. "Now we're going to hear there's going to be another nuclear test."

McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said China needs to step up and reign in the North Koreans. "China is the only country that can really exert influence over North Korea," he said. McCain also questioned Beijing's steadfast support of a regime "that has 150,000 people literally eating grass in a gulag," referring to food shortages there.

McCain said North Korea is a threat because of its attempt to develop nuclear weapons and because of its ties to Iran.

"In the Bush administration we lifted restrictions against them in hope that they would be coming back to the table. This is a failed policy by numerous administrations. And again, what would we suggest? Make sure China understands that this is a key issue in our relationship with China," McCain said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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