(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), asked to respond to North Korea's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, called for an expanded missile defense capacity and a "hardened" electrical grid.
But first, he noted that President Bill Clinton relaxed sanctions against North Korea, just as President Obama has relaxed sanctions against Iran: "So, what we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran."
At Saturday's Republican debate in New Hampshire, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Cruz how he would respond as commander in chief to the North Korean missile launch:
"Well, I would note initially, the fact that we’re seeing the launch, and we’re seeing the launch from a nuclear North Korea, is the direct result of the failures of the first Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. Billions of dollars flowed into North Korea in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons. They took those billions and built nuclear weapons.
"And, I would note also the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran. So, what we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran."
Cruz said one of the first things the U.S. should do is expand its missile defense capacity: "We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. South Korea wants them.
"One of the real risks of this launch, North Korea wants to launch a satellite, and one of the greatest risks of the satellite is they would place a nuclear device in the satellite. As it would orbit around the Earth, and as it got over the United States, they would detonate that nuclear weapon and set of what’s called an EMP, and electromagnetic pulse, which could take down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions.
"We need to harden the grid to defend ourselves, and we need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea."
Raddatz asked Cruz if he would have ordered the U.S. military to destroy North Korea's missile "preemptively on the launch pad."
"You know, at this point I’m not going to speculate on that without the intelligence briefing that any Commander in Chief would have, knowing what exactly is there," Cruz responded.
Raddatz shot back, saying Cruz has "talked tough about the Mideast" without intelligence briefings.
Wrong. "Actually, with respect, I have gotten the intelligence briefings on the Mideast," Cruz responded. "Those have been going on for many years. I haven’t gotten the intelligence briefing tonight on what North Korea’s doing because I’m here in New Hampshire. When you’re responding to an immediate incident, you need to know the intelligence of what’s occurring.
"But what I was saying — look, it is qualitatively different dealing with a country once they have nuclear weapons. It’s why you prevent them from getting nuclear weapons in the first place, because your hands are somewhat tied once they have nukes.
"It’s why this Iranian nuclear deal is so catastrophic, and it’s why I’ve pledged, on the very first day in office, to rip to shreds this Iranian nuclear deal so we’re not sitting here in five years, wondering what to do about an Iranian missile launch when they have nuclear weapons. The stakes are too high for that."
"Okay," Raddatz said. "Senator Cruz, I will say that missile has been sitting there for quite some time, and they have had eyes on it."
At that point, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) jumped in to clarify that "it is standard procedure of the United States to shoot down those missiles once launched if they pose a threat to civilians, land and ships."