Trump tells UN the US is ‘willing and able’ to destroy North Korea
US president says ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime’
US president Donald Trump has warned the United States may “have no choice but to totally destroy” North Korea, as he used his maiden United Nations speech to condemn the state and its leader.
In a highly-anticipated address to the UN General Assembly that risked inflaming tensions with Pyongyang, Mr Trump said “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime”, repeating a phrase he used about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a tweet last weekend.
Mr Trump said while the United States was “ready, willing and able” to destroy North Korea, “hopefully this will not be necessary”.
In a wide ranging speech that touched on issues of national sovereignty and the US’s role in the world, the US president singled out “a small group of rogue regimes” which he described as the “scourge of our planet”.
He described the Iranian nuclear deal signed by his predecessor Barack Obama and other western powers as “one of the worst and one-sided” agreements ever and an “embarrassment to the United States”.
The deal agreed in December 2015 saw Iran restrict its nuclear activities in exchange for international sanctions being lifted against the state. Despite pledging to pull the United States out of the agreement during the presidential campaign, Mr Trump has yet to do so.
However, Mr Trump’s comments on Iran during his UN address sparked concerns that the administration could move to assert that Iran is non-compliant with the terms of the agreement when the president is next due to update Congress on the issue on October 15th.
Speaking on the fringes of the UN General Assembly, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani claimed the US would be the loser if it pulled out of the deal.
“Everyone will clearly see that Iran has lived up to its agreements, and that the United States is, therefore, a country that cannot be trusted. We will be the winners.”
French president Emanuel Macron also defended the agreement as a “good agreement”.
“Renouncing it would be a serious error, not respecting it would be irresponsible because it is a good accord that is essential to peace at a time when the risk of an internal conflagration cannot be excluded,” he said after the US president’s address.
Mr Trump’s 40-minute speech, which was met by restrained applause in the chamber, also set out some broader principles of US foreign policy as Mr Trump espoused the notion of national sovereignty, a common theme of his presidential campaign.
“I will always put America first, just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first,” he said, noting that “the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition”.
Mr Trump also cited Venezuela, criticising the “socialist dictatorship” of Nicolas Maduro that has inflicted “terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country”.
“This situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch,” he said, suggesting the US may consider further action in the area.
“The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.”
Mr Trump’s speech was also notable for its omissions. No mention was made of climate change despite indications over the weekend that the administration may be prepared to stay in the Paris climate accord.
Similarly, Mr Trump did not refer to the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, China or Russia, though he did cite threats to the sovereignty of Ukraine.