US President Donald Trump has delivered a stern warning to North Korea in his first speech to the United Nations general assembly – telling Kim Jong-un that “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission” and threatening the “total destruction” of his country should he attack the US.
The US president told the packed general assembly chamber that North Korea posed the greatest threat to the world with its flagrant disregard for international law. In a speech seen by analysts as a return to George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” world view – only with Iraq removed from the list drawn up in 2002 – Mr Trump also spoke out against Iran, describing the country as an “economically depleted rogue state” whose chief export is violence.
He denounced the Iran nuclear deal as an “embarrassment”, in the latest sign that he plans to tear up or renegotiate the landmark accord.
“Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he said. “Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”
Mr Trump criticised Cuba and Venezuela, singling out Nicolas Maduro for particularly harsh denunciation. The Venezuelan president, he said, ruled over a “corrupt regime” that was starving its own people and had “seized power”.
Yet Mr Trump did indeed, as his UN ambassador Nikki Haley promised, “hug people”, as well as “slap” them.
He praised Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, for his efforts to encourage reform. He thanked Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for taking in refugees. And he celebrated Middle East leaders who had joined his summit in Saudi Arabia in May, saying that together they had made significant progress in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The US president also said his nation did not seek to impose their world view on anyone, and devoted significant time to defending his America First policy.
“As president of the United States, I will always put America first – just like you, as leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first,” he said.