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Trump Targets North Korea, Iran, Venezuela in UN Speech


President Donald Trump speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump warned world leaders of “rogue regimes” with powerful weapons in his first address before the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.

The president had his strongest words for North Korea, which faces U.N. sanctions because of its continuing missile and nuclear programs. He said, if the U.S. is threatened, “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

He also called the North Korean leader, who often attends missile tests, “rocket man” saying he was on “a suicide mission.” North Korea did not immediately answer comments in the speech.

Trump thanked China and Russia for voting to sanction North Korea. But the president added, "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."

Iran, Cuba and Venezuela

The nuclear deal with Iran was another one of the president’s main targets. Trump said the 2015 deal, which released billions of dollars to Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, did not help the U.S.

He said it was one of the worse and most one-sided transactions in U.S. history. He called the deal an embarrassment and suggested that the U.S. would reconsider the international agreement.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he said.

Speaking of countries closer to the U.S., Trump said he would not end U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

Trump especially criticized the government in Venezuela saying its leader had pushed a “failed ideology” on its people. “We cannot stand by and watch,” Trump said. And he called on other Latin America countries to help deal with the crisis there.

Trump explains America first policy

The speech was an attempt to explain the “America First” policy that Trump has offered since he campaigned for the U.S. presidency.

A main theme of the speech was to call for all members of the United Nations to strengthen their own sovereignty.

He told the assembly that he would put America first, “Just as you, as the leaders of other countries, should put your citizens first.”

He told the leaders and diplomats from 193 member nations: “I will defend America’s interests above all else.”

But he also noted, “But in fulfilling our obligations to other nations we also realize it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.”

He identified conflict in Ukraine and disagreements in the South China Sea as threats to sovereignty.

The U.S. president opened his comments by praising gains in the American economy including record high stock market values and employment numbers.

Trump also praised the U.S. military. He said with a budget of almost $700 billion it would soon “be the strongest it has ever been.”

Trump noted, “But in fulfilling our obligations to other nations we also realize it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.”
Trump noted, “But in fulfilling our obligations to other nations we also realize it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.”

Immense promise and great peril

The president noted that world leaders face economic promise but also many dangers. “We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” he said.

He praised U.S. gains made against the extremist group ISIS in Syria and other places saying the U.S. had made more progress in a few months than it had in many previous years.

Trump called for a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The Syrian conflict has caused millions of refugees to flee violence in that country. Trump thanked Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for hosting refugees.

But Trump added warnings about uncontrolled migration as being deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving country.

The U.S. president spoke for about 41 minutes with few breaks for clapping from the audience of world leaders and diplomats. Trump is from New York, a place he called his “hometown.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the General Assembly meeting. In his comments, he also warned of the danger of North Korea’s weapons. Guterres said world crises need answers that are developed cooperatively.

“We are a world in pieces,” Guterres said. “We need to be a world at peace.”

Mario Ritter wrote this story for VOA Learning English with some materials from Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

regime –n. a government, a ruling group

sanction –n. measure put in place to cause a country to obey international law, usually by limiting or banning trade

imperil –v. to put in danger

transaction –n. an business exchange or deal

obligations –n. things that are required to be done by law, custom or agreement

sovereign –adj. having independent power to govern

prosperous –adj. to have success

immense –adj. to a great degree, very large

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