U.S. President Donald Trump has called on members of the United Nations General Assembly to take a harder line against threats posed by North Korea and Iran, saying the United States could be "forced" to “totally destroy North Korea” if the UN fails to convince Pyongyang to "cease its hostile behavior" and suggesting that Washington may withdraw from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.
In his first address to the UN General Assembly, Trump on September 19 spoke in tough terms about the threat to global security posed by North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He referred to North Korean leader Kim Jung Un as “Rocket Man,” saying he was on a “suicide mission” and that he headed a “depraved regime.”
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said.
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said. “The United States is ready, willing, and able. But hopefully, this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”
Trump welcomed recent UN Security Council sanctions imposed against North Korea over its latest nuclear weapons tests, but told the UN General Assembly that “we must do much more.”
“It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior,” Trump said.
"If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump said. “When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”
Trump also said it is “far past time” for the nations of the world to confront Iran, which he called a “reckless” and “murderous regime” that is “undermining peace throughout the Middle East."
He said Tehran cannot be allowed to continue developing its “dangerous missiles.”
Speaking about Iran’s nuclear deal with six world powers, Trump told the UN General Assembly: “We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”
Trump said the Iran nuclear deal was "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
“Frankly, that deal an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me," Trump said.
“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” Trump said, describing the country as an “economically-depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.”
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”
Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded to Trump’s criticism by telling reporters the United States would forfeit the world’s trust if it exists the 2015 nuclear deal – which also was signed by France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Trump’s remarks at the UN “shameless” and “ignorant.”
“Especially in the part where he mentioned the great Iranian nation, his comments were without content, just empty slogans that are not worth a reacting to,” Zarif told Iran’s state-run FARS news agency.
“The shameless and ignorant comments of the U.S. president, which ignore the realities of Iran in its domestic and foreign policies and its fight against terrorism, reveal the depth of how uniformed Trump is,” Zarif said. “It also reveals his demagogic behavior and rhetoric.”
In an English-language posted to Twitter, Zarif said “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times, not the 21st-century UN-unworthy of a reply. Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one.”
French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Trump’s remarks about the Iran nuclear deal during his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 19.
Macron said it was a big mistake to criticize the nuclear deal, and that not respecting the accord would be irresponsible because it was a “good deal.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s remarks about Iran, saying in a statement that he had “never heard a bolder or more courageous speech” at the United Nations in more than 30 years.
Trump also had criticism for Russia and China, saying "We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea."
"We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow," Trump said.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and FARS