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Trump Says In His First UN Speech That If Forced The US Will "Totally Destroy" North Korea

He also called the Iran nuclear deal an "embarrassment."

Originally posted on
Updated on

Here's What's Happening:

* President Donald Trump delivered his first address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, saying at the top, "we meet at a time of immense promise and great peril."

* Trump's speech was dark, and focused heavily on terrorism and the nuclear capabilities of nations hostile to the US. "Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been," he added.

* He specifically blasted North Korea — which he said the US would "totally destroy" if forced to over its threats and nuclear program — and called the Iran nuclear deal struck by President Obama an "embarrassment" that the world will be hearing more about soon.

* His address also delivered nationalist overtones: "As President of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first." He added, "As long as I hold this office, I will defend America's interests above all else."

* He also addressed the refugee crisis — which he's been sharply criticized for in his travel ban — saying uncontrolled migration is “deeply unfair” to both the countries refugees are fleeing and the ones that take them in.

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President Donald Trump gave his first speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, giving an address that presented a nationalistic, "America First" vision to the world.

"Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists, but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity," Trump said at the start, referring to Iran and North Korea.

"Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II. International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, threaten our borders and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens."

UN members must all "respect the interests of their own people and their rights of every other sovereign nation,” he said.

"From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead we helped build institutions like this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all," he said.

His statement about having "strong and independent, sovereign nations," was interrupted by applause, according to the president's press pool.

“In America the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign,” he said. "As President of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first."

“As long as I hold this office I will defend America’s interests above all else,” he added.

North Korea

"The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the united nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," he said.

Trump directly attacked the "depraved regime in North Korea" and went on to note the American who died after being held by the regime and the assassination of Kim Jong Un's brother.

"Now their reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict," he said.

"We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man" — his name for Kim Jong Un — "is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime."

This was the most bombastic line of Trump's speech. The remarks raised eyebrows and prompted charges of reckless saber rattling, but White House speech writers clearly intended to send a provocative message.

In advance of the speech, a senior administration official, in a briefing with reporters, said "the president will speak in extremely tough terms about the North Korean menace."

Iran

Trump then focused on Iran, saying, "We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and indeed to tear up the entire world," he said, referring to the "loser terrorists."

Trump went on to say that the Iran deal “an embarrassment” for the United States, suggesting that the US may abandon the 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli delegation applauded when Trump said the world could not abide by the Iran agreement "if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program, according to the president's press pool.

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

The president said that Iran's future comes down its people who can "continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror" or "return to its roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth."

Refugee Crisis

Trump also turned his attention to refugees — a topic he's been widely criticized for, since he sought to ban refugees from six Muslim-majority nations in his travel ban.

“The United States is a compassionate nation,” Trump said addressing the Syrian refugee crisis. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process.”

The president said that uncontrolled migration is “deeply unfair” to both the countries refugees are fleeing and the ones that take them in.

For the sending countries, it reduces pressure and drains human capital needed to pursue reforms, Trump said. For the receiving countries the costs of uncontrolled migration are “born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.”

He called on nations to treat refugees with "simple decency and human compassion."

While Trump thanked Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon for hosting Syrian refugees, the president did not mention or call out Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

Trump also criticized Venezuela saying the country's socialist regime has "brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse."

"The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country," Trump said. "This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried."

Here's some of those quotes and reaction:

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Reporting by Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Hayes Brown, and John Hudson.

Contact BuzzFeed News at maggie.schultz+news@buzzfeed.com.

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