In stark U.N. speech, Trump threatens to “destroy” North Korea

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President Donald Trump says the United States will have no choice but to “totally destroy” North

UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies against the renegade nation’s nuclear weapons program, making his case in a combative debut speech to the U.N. that laid out a stark, good-vs-evil view of a globe riven by chaos and turmoil.

Trump’s broadsides against “rogue regimes,” North Korea chief among them, drew murmurs from the assembled world leaders and served as a searing salute to his nationalism during diplomatic prime time. He said it was “far past time” for the world to confront Kim Jong Un, declaring that the North Korean leader’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a threat to “the entire world with an unthinkable loss of human life.”

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    Seth Wenig, The Associated Press

    United States President Donald Trump prepares to speak during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

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    This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. Kim vowed to complete North Korea's nuclear force despite sanctions, saying the final goal of his country's weapons development is "equilibrium of real force" with the United States, state media reported on September 16. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS /

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    Ahn Young-joon, The Associated Press

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korea's missile launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. South Korea's military said North Korea fired an unidentified missile Friday from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. The signs read "Japan protests North Korea's missile launch."

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    KRT via AP Video, Associated Press file

    In this Dec. 12, 2012 file image made from video, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea's top governing body warned Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States.

  • in-stark-un-speech-trump-threatens-to--and-8220;destroy-and-8221;-north-korea photo 5

    South Korea Defense Ministry

    In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, South Korea's Hyunmoo II ballistic missile is fired during an exercise at an undisclosed location in South Korea, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. In South Korea, the nation's military said it conducted a live-fire exercise simulating an attack on North Korea's nuclear test site to "strongly warn" Pyongyang over the latest nuclear test. Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drill involved F-15 fighter jets and the country's land-based "Hyunmoo" ballistic missiles. The released live weapons "accurately struck" a target in the sea off the country's eastern coast, the JCS said.

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    Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press file

    In this Aug. 29, 2017 file photo, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) demonstrates the training to utilize the PAC-3 surface to air interceptors at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Japan is debating whether to develop limited pre-emptive strike capability and buy cruise missiles - ideas that were anathema in the pacifist country before the North Korea missile threat. Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system, interceptors on destroyers in the Sea of Japan, and if they fail, surface-to-air PAC-3s.

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    Lee Jin-man, Associated Press file

    In this Tuesday, April 23, 2013, file photo, a North Korean soldier looks at the southern side through a pair of binoculars at the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea. Threatening to fire a volley of missiles toward a major U.S. military hub _ and the home to 160,000 American civilians _ may seem like a pretty bad move for a country that is seriously outgunned and has an awful lot to lose. But pushing the envelope, or just threatening to do so, is what North Korea does best.

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    A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands on the runway at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. North Korea on Wednesday officially dismissed President Donald Trump's threats of "fire and fury," declaring the American leader "bereft of reason" and warning ominously, "Only absolute force can work on him."

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    U.S. Air Force A-10 attack aircraft wait to take off on the runway at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. North Korea on Wednesday officially dismissed President Donald Trump's threats of "fire and fury," declaring the American leader "bereft of reason" and warning ominously, "Only absolute force can work on him."

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“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” Trump said, mocking the North Korean leader even as he sketched out potentially cataclysmic consequences. The president himself decided to work the nickname into his speech just hours before he took the dais, according to aides.

Trump spoke of his own nation’s “patience,” but said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump’s overheated language was rare for a U.S. president at the rostrum of the United Nations, but the speech was textbook Trump, dividing the globe into friends and foes and taking unflinching aim at America’s enemies. North Korea’s ambassador and another top diplomat left the General Assembly chamber before he spoke to boycott his speech, leaving behind two empty chairs.

The president urged nations to work together to stop Iran’s nuclear program and defeat “loser terrorists” who wage violence around the globe. He denounced “radical Islamic terrorism,” an inflammatory label he had shied away from in recent months after trumpeting it on the campaign trail. He called Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government a “criminal regime.” He said violence-plagued regions of the world “are going to hell.” He made little mention of Russia.

For all of that, he said there was still hope the United Nations could solve “many of these vicious and complex problems.”

But he focused more on the problems than the hopes.

His lashing of North Korea was a vigorous restatement of what’s been said by U.S. leaders before, but delivered with new intensity in the august setting of the General Assembly. After a litany of accusations — the starvation of millions, the abduction of a Japanese girl and more — he questioned the legitimacy of the communist government by referring to it as a “band of criminals.”

Trump, who has previously warned of “fire and fury” if Pyongyang does not back down, claimed that “no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.” And he scolded that it was “an outrage” to enable and trade with North Korea, seeming to point a finger at China, although he did not mention it by name.

Despite the speech’s bombast, it signaled little in the way of policy change. Trump stopped short of demanding regime change, which North Korea regards as the ultimate American intention and treats as a reason for its development of nuclear weapons. That may offer some reassurance to China and Russia, which have urged the U.S. to tone down its rhetoric and restart dialogue with North Korea.

Trump, who frequently belittled the U.N. as a candidate, urged the world leaders to embrace their own “national sovereignty to do more to ensure the prosperity and security of their own countries.

“I will always put America first. Just like you, the leaders of your countries, should and always put your countries first,” he said. “We can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal in which the United States gets nothing in return.”

Trump’s blistering speech came just minutes after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres put “nuclear peril” as the gravest threat facing the world and warned that “fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”

On Iran, Trump called the government a rogue state whose chief export is “violence, bloodshed and chaos.” He accused Tehran of squandering Iran’s wealth by supporting Syria’s Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.

Trump called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment” to the United States and suggested it was one of the worst international pacts ever struck. And he hinted that his administration, which has accused Tehran of aiding terrorism in the Middle East, could soon declare Iran out of compliance with the deal, which could unravel it.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the end of it,” Trump said. “Believe me.”

The administration must decide in mid-October whether it will certify that Iran is still in compliance with the agreement.

He also decried the “disastrous rule” of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and urged the U.N. to step in

The speech drew varying reactions from leaders on the two sides of Trump’s black-and-white ledger. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Trump ally, wrote on Twitter, “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech.” Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, wrote that “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times-not the 21st Century UN -unworthy of a reply.”

On Twitter late Tuesday, Trump claimed he met with “leaders of many nations who agree with much (or all) of what I stated in my speech!”

Domestically, reaction largely broke down along party lines: Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said Trump used the U.N. “as a stage to threaten war.” Onetime Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted that Trump “gave a strong and needed challenge” to the U.N.

Outside of an oblique reference to a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty, Trump made no mention of Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. He chastised the U.N. for what he said was a bloated budget and bureaucracy but did not reiterate previous threats to cut Washington’s commitment to the world body. Instead, pledged the United States would be “partners in your work” to make the organization a more effective force for world peace.

Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington, Matthew Lee and Edith Lederer contributed to this report.

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Article In stark U.N. speech, Trump threatens to “destroy” North Korea compiled by www.denverpost.com