U.S. President Donald Trump called Tuesday for a “great reawakening” of independent sovereign nations, but told world leaders at the United Nations they must collectively confront the rogue leaders of North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.
He told the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy” North Korea if it is forced to defend itself and American allies from a Pyongyang nuclear or ballistic missile attack.
The U.S. leader mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump derided Iran, saying its leaders had turned “a wealthy nation into an economically depleted rogue state” that undermines peace in the Middle East with its military adventures. Trump called the 2015 deal brokered by former U.S. President Barack Obama and five other world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program “an embarrassment to the United States.”
He described the regime of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro as “corrupt” and said Maduro had brought the South American nation “to the brink of total collapse. People are starving and their country is collapsing.”
Trump, elected last year on a campaign with an “America first” agenda, told the world leaders “to respect the interests of their own people and the sovereign rights of all nations.
“In America, we don’t seek to impose our way of life on anyone,” Trump declared. But he said that “as president I will always put America first. As leaders, you should put your nations first.
“I will defend American interests,” Trump said, but he noted the U.S. wants a world where “all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]”We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties – to respect the interest of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution and this is the foundation for cooperation and success.
“We are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirit, their pride, their people and their patriotism,” he said. “We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.”
Criticism of UN
In his run to the White House, Trump often attacked the United Nations as weak and “not a friend of democracy” or the United States. But he since has toned down his anti-U.N. rhetoric and on Monday, in calling for reforms in its operations, said the U.N. could be “a greater force for peace.”
In all, there are 90 heads of state, five vice presidents, 39 heads of government, three deputy prime ministers and 52 ministers attending the annual U.N. conclave in New York.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, nine months on the job, opened the session with his state-of-the-world address, highlighting the challenges facing the globe.
“Our world is in trouble. People are hurting and angry and they see insecurity rising, inequality growing, conflict spreading and climate changing,” Guterres said.
“The global economy is increasingly integrated but our sense of global community may be disintegrated,” Guterres said. “Societies are fragmented, political discourse is polarized and trust within and amongst countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide.”
He also highlighted the worldwide refugee crisis, including the thousands of Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar, and urged world leaders to implement the 2015 Paris climate change pact “with ever greater ambition.”
Guterres, Macron speeches
Numerous other leaders are also speaking Tuesday including French President Emmanuel Macron, who is making his first U.N. speech and, with a message expected to extol multilateral cooperation among the world’s nations, is expected to offer a contrast to Trump.
The French leader has turned Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan into a motto in favor of climate protections: “Make the Planet Great Again.” France has been pushing Trump to reverse his vow to pull the U.S. out of the worldwide Paris agreement aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Seeking to shore up support for the climate deal, Guterres will be joined by Macron for a meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly later Tuesday that the United States has decided to boycott.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also is speaking, as are Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Gambia’s new leader Adama Barrow and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.