During his first speech to the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump condemned North Korea and threatened the country with total destruction if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies.
Trump allocated several minutes of his speech to the country, labeling it “depraved,” the regime “a band of criminals,” and calling for its global isolation.
“The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes… no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” Trump said.
“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… The United States is ready, willing and able but hopefully, this will not be necessary.”
The threat is in line with Trump’s messaging towards North Korea – he previously said the DPRK would be met with “fire and fury” should it continue to threaten the U.S.
“The phrase ‘totally destroy’ is likely to alarm Pyongyang,” a diplomatic source with experience of UN procedures told NK News on Tuesday. “It is a new formulation and clearly threatens military action.”
“The North Korean reaction will probably be defiance in the form of further and more dramatic tests of its missiles and nuclear weaponry. It is hard to see how President Trump’s remarks have contributed to a solution of the problem,” the source added.
Trump also referenced North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directly, though did not use his name, opting instead for “rocket man” – the second such time he has referred to Kim with the moniker following a social media posting last week.
“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he said, adding that denuclearization is the North’s only path to an acceptable future.
In his condemnation of the DPRK, Trump referenced the death of U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier earlier this year, North Korea’s historic abduction of Japanese citizens, and the assassination of Kim Jong Nam – Kim’s brother – in Malaysia as evidence of its provocative behavior.
Trump additionally condemned the North Korean regime for the starvation of millions of its citizens, as well as the “imprisonment, torture, killing and oppression of countless more”.
The U.S. President called for the global isolation of North Korea, saying that “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 also thanked Russia and China for their help in passing the last two UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea.
The comments were in contrast to previous statements by Trump, who said the most recent UN sanctions adopted against North Korea in September were “not a big deal”.
The President called for North Korea’s diplomatic isolation during the 41-minute long speech
In his opening speech, UN Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned North Korea for its continued development of nuclear weapons.
“Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” he said.
“Within the DPRK itself, such tests do nothing to ease the plight of those who are suffering hunger and severe violations of their human rights. I condemn those tests unequivocally.”
However, Guterres struck a different tone from Trump, saying that the solution to the North Korean issue must be peaceful.
“The solution must be political. This is a time for statesmanship. We must not sleepwalk our way into war.”
According to Reuters, North Korea’s UN ambassador Ja Song Nam left the General Assembly before Trump arrived at the podium – while a junior North Korean diplomat remained during the speech.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: UNTV
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