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Trump Threatens to Destroy NKorea at UN09/20 06:10

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- President Donald Trump has vowed 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 Tuesday 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."

   "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, he pledged the United States would be "partners in your work" to make 
the organization a more effective force for world peace.


(KA)

 
 
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