If North Korea doesn’t back down from its nuclear standoff, the United States will strike back, U.S. President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
“No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” he said in a speech. If the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies, “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Trump called the Kim government a “depraved regime” and loud murmurs filled the General Assembly as he issued his strongest warning yet to Pyongyang.
“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” he said.
He urged United Nations member states to work together to isolate the Kim government until it ceases its “hostile” behavior, saying it is “past time for the nations of the world to confront” Kim Jong-Un.
Trump, who has previously warned of “fire and fury” if Pyongyang does not back down, claimed that “no one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea,” specifically noting past famines where thousands or possibly millions of North Koreans starved. And he scolded nations that he said have enabled and traded with North Korea, seeming to slight China, though he did not mention it by name.
A junior North Korean diplomat remained in the delegation’s front-row seat for Trump’s speech, the North Korean U.N. mission said. The ambassador left his seat prior to Trump’s arrival.
Shortly before Trump‘s speech, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed from the General Assembly lectern for statesmanship to avoid war with North Korea.
“This is the time for statesmanship,” said the former prime minister of Portugal.
“We must not sleepwalk our way into war.”
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously imposed nine rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006 and Guterres appealed for the 15-member body to maintain its unity on North Korea.
Trump has warned North Korea that military action was an option for the United States as Pyongyang has carried out a series of tests toward developing the ability to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
At a press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Trump’s strong statement on North Korea. “I share everyone’s concern over the reckless behaviour by the North Korean regime, and continue to believe that working with partners and allies in the region and around the world, including China, Japan, South Korea and the United States is the best way to deescalate the situation, which is a danger not just to the region, but to global peace,” he responded.
-With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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