Sanders believes North Korea is the biggest threat to American security and that we should work closely with China to resolve the problems.
CHUCK TODD: All right as Commander-in-Chief, Senator Sanders, you’ve got to prioritize potential threats to the United States. Three countries: North Korea, Iran, Russia. How would you rank them in order of their threat to America’s security right now? Starting with the biggest threat.
BERNIE SANDERS: ISIS. You forgot one.
TODD: No I’m talking about these three countries. How would you orient our national security, our national defense posture?
SANDERS: Well clearly North Korea is a very strange situation because it is such an isolated country run by a handful of dictators, or maybe just one, who seems to be somewhat paranoid and who has nuclear weapons and our goal there in my view is to work and lean strongly on China to put as much pressure. China is one of the few major countries in the world that has significant support for North Korea and I think we’ve got to do everything we can to put pressure on China. So I worry very much about an isolated, paranoid country with atomic bombs. I think clearly we have got to work closely with China to resolve the serious problems we have and I worry about Putin and his military adventurism in the Crimea and Ukraine.
TODD: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter this week picked one of those three and he has said Russia was basically the most important national security threat so reorienting the defense and the challenges to that. Do you agree with his decision?
SANDERS: No I don’t. I worry very very much about an isolated country. That’s what makes me nervous. Russia lives in the world, China lives in the world. North Korea is a very very strange country because it is so isolated and I do fear that a nation with nuclear weapons they have got to be dealt with and dealt with effectively.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Bernie Sanders here now, democratic presidential candidate. I want to get to that argument from Hillary Clinton in a second but first this breaking news; overnight from North Korea another nuclear test, perhaps a hydrogen bomb. If you were in the oval office what would you do about it?
BERNIE SANDERS: Well first of all we’re going to have to lean on China. China is North Korea’s closest ally. They’re going to have to push North Korea to start adhering to international agreements
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do we lean on China?
SANDERS: Well China and we have a relationship. China is equally concerned about what North Korea is doing. North Korea is a paranoid, isolated nation, they are. When you have a hydrogen bomb if that’s true you are a threat to China as well.