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Trump to UN: ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission’

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Story highlights

Trump called out North Korea and Iran in cutting terms

"Our military will soon be the strongest it's ever been," he said.

United Nations CNN —  

President Donald Trump delivered Tuesday a doomsday warning to North Korea and mocked its young leader, a pugnacious escalation in rhetoric in a wide-ranging debut address to the United Nations, the world’s foremost diplomatic body.

In blunt terms, Trump warned the US would “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies. He said while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options could soon run out.

Directly putting the country’s leader on notice, Trump suggested Kim Jong Un could not survive an American attack.

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

02:23 - Source: CNN
Trump to UN: 'Rocket Man' on a suicide mission

It was a characteristically bombastic approach to a crisis that’s growing in scale. Throughout his address – the most closely watched foreign policy remarks of his presidency – Trump brought frank assessments to a range of sticky global flashpoints.

He declared the Iran nuclear deal all but dead, saying it was an “embarrassment” to the United States. He bluntly described some regions of the world as “going to hell.” And he revived his use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” vowing to stamp out terrorists worldwide.

But it was Trump’s remarks about North Korea that prompted the loudest buzz in the soaring, green-hued General Assembly hall, where Trump spoke to more than 100 world leaders and diplomats.

“It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a nation but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world,” he said.

He warned nations against becoming “bystanders to history” and thanked members of the UN Security Council – where he’s secured key victories through passage of sanctions measures against North Korea – for escalating their rebukes of Pyongyang.

Iran

01:36 - Source: CNN
Donald Trump and Iran: the one thing to know

He directed similar ire toward Iran, which he accused of supporting terrorists and destabilizing the region.

“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” Trump said. “It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”

He left little doubt to his plans for the nuclear deal, which was brokered under the Obama administration and lifted some sanctions on the country in exchange for curbing aspects of its nuclear program.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions,” Trump said. “That deal is embarrassment to the US and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”

Trump faces a mid-October deadline for re-certifying Iran’s compliance with the agreement. US officials say Trump is still weighing his next moves and plans to announce his intentions next month.

He also lambasted Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro, accusing him of depriving his people in the same of socialist ideas. “The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing,” Trump said.

’Sovereignty’

Trump has delivered major foreign policy addresses before, but the issues at the United Nations are broader and the geographic spread of Trump’s audience wider. The message he delivered here will resonate in capitals worldwide, where officials and leaders are still seeking a cohesive foreign policy doctrine from new American leader.

In his remarks, Trump sought to encapsulate his worldview through the theme of “sovereignty,” suggesting that nations acting in their own self-interest would create a more stable world.

“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 said to scattered applause. “All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”