President Trump adopted a characteristically confrontational stance when he addressed the United Nations on Tuesday as he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” and referred to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, as “rocket man.”
You can see these remarks in the video below.
This was Trump’s first speech to the United Nations General Assembly. He framed conflicts with “rogue regimes” like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela as a challenging test for the international system. In his address he made a number of bombastic flourishes such as vowing to crush “loser terrorists”, avowing the usually restrained rhetoric many American presidents have previously used at the United Nations.
He referred to the conflicts as one of the righteous versus the wicked:
“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”
He also asserted that some parts of the world “are going to hell.”
Trump attempted to explain his America First policy to an audience concerned about what it means to the multilateral system of global governance that has been built up since the end of the Second World War. Trump argued that nationalism can be the foundation for strong nations to join together with common causes, referring repeatedly to “sovereignty” to describe his approach.
Trump was scathing towards North Korea, broadening his indictment from just their nuclear program to the way they treat their citizens as well as captured foreigners such as an American college student who died recently after being sent back to the United States.
He said that the United States has patience but won’t hesitate to totally destroy North Korea:
“No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. 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 is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
Trump didn’t specifically refer to China but was critical of their support for North Korea:
“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.”
See Trump’s comments in full below, where he also refers to “the Iran deal” as “the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”