Trump warns US may ‘destroy’ North Korea

UNITED NATIONS

President Donald Trump warned today that the United States is ready to “totally destroy” North Korea and vowed to confront Iran’s “murderous regime” over its weapons programme.

In his first address to leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Trump warned North Korea not to pursue its nuclear missile programme in his starkest language yet, deriding its young leader Kim Jong-Un with the nickname “Rocket Man” and threatening to end his country.

“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.

ROCKET MAN

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he said.

“The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”

As to Iran, Mr Trump appeared to pave the way towards tearing up the nuclear deal signed in 2015 between six world powers and Iran. Mr Trump said the accord had failed to rein in the regime’s subversive role in Middle East conflicts, and sent a clear signal that he intends to declare Tehran in breach of the deal when he reports to Congress next month.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilising activities while building dangerous missiles and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear programme,” Trump told the assembly.

IRAN

“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he said.

“Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”

Many of the assembly’s members, including US allies and Iran deal signatories France and Britain, favour retaining the accord — under which Iran surrendered much of its enriched nuclear fuel and exposed its nuclear sites to international monitors.

But some of Trump’s closest advisors fear the agreement leaves Iran too close to the threshold of being able to quickly develop a nuclear weapon when restrictive clauses in the deal begin to expire in 2025.

At the same time, Mr Trump decried threats to sovereignty in Ukraine and the South China Sea.

RUSSIA

Mr Trump did not explicitly mention Russia or China, but the comment was clearly aimed at Moscow and Beijing.

“We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea,” Trump said. “We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.”

He denounced the Iran nuclear deal as an “embarrassment” in the latest sign that he plans to tear up or renegotiate the landmark accord.

“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” Mr Trump told the UN General Assembly.

“Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”

He said his vision of a world order was based on strong “sovereign nations” rather than multilateral alliances.

FREEDOM

“As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realise that it’s in everyone’s interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure,” he said.

“America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter,” he said. “Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall.”

Since coming to office in January, Mr Trump has sought to unravel US involvement in multilateral deals from the Paris climate accord to an agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.

He has cancelled a major trans-Pacific trade pact, sought to renegotiate a free trade deal with Mexico and Canada and even threatened to leave the World Trade Organization.

INVESTMENT

Aides said Mr Trump will not rule out accords between sovereign states — such as those that underpin security in Europe and Asia — but will argue against overbearing global governance.

At the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump warned that “bureaucracy” was holding the United Nations back, a barbed message to the world body he once derided as a talk shop.

Trump warned that as chief executive of the United States — a founding member of the UN and its biggest financial contributor — he wants a better return on his investment.

“The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals,” he said, adding that while progress has been made, “in recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential, because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”

Allies and foes alike will rummage through Trump’s speech today for a better idea of how this lurching superpower foresees its future place in the world.

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