'If thousands die, they're going to die over there': Lindsey Graham says North Korea war almost 'inevitable'
Sen. Lindsey Graham (NBC News)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said experts were "wrong" to say there's no military option for North Korea -- and he said the pressure was on China to prevent a war that could devastate the region.

The South Carolina Republican said Tuesday that President Donald Trump would not allow North Korea to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear strike to the U.S.

"The only way they're going to change (is) if they believe there's a credible threat of military force on the table," Graham told the "Today" show. "The Chinese are miscalculating Trump, and so are the North Koreans. He's got to choose between homeland security and regional stability. Japan, South Korea, China will all be in the crosshairs of a war if we started one with North Korea, but if they get a missile that can hit California and maybe other parts of America."

Military experts generally agree there's no good option for military action, because it would immediately endanger millions in the region -- but Graham disagrees.

"They're wrong," Graham said. "There is a military option to destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself. He's not going to allow, President Trump, the ability of this madman to have a missile to hit America. If there's going to be a war to stop it, it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there -- they're not going to die here. He's told me that to my face -- and that may be provocative, but not really. When you're president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie?"

NBC News' Matt Lauer seemed astonished, and he asked if Graham was really willing to endanger the lives of so many people in China, Japan and South Korea.

"I'm saying it's inevitable unless North Korea changes, because you're making our president pick between regional stability and homeland security," Graham said. "He's having to make a choice that no president wants to make. They've kicked the can down the road for 20 years, there's no place else to kick it. So there will be a war with North Korea over their missile program if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM. He has told me that, I believe him, and if I were China, I would believe him, too, and do something about it."