President Trump spoke before the United Nations for the first time on Tuesday morning, addressing a number of issues faced by world leaders today, including North Korea, Iran, and the state of the global organization at large.
The president began by expressing his appreciation to the leaders of nations that offered aid to Americans in the wake of two devastating hurricanes in recent weeks, before providing an optimistic outlook on the U.S. economy and military under his charge.
Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.” He said.
The president went on to tell the committee of national leaders that they were living in a time of “great opportunity,” adding:
But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.”
Trump, who had been openly critical of the United Nations in the past for its bureaucracy and overspending, also offered a more optimistic outlook regarding what the international organization was capable of in the modern era. He tempered this optimism with a call for leaders to embrace the concepts of “national sovereignty” in which each nation works and acts in its own best interest, which, according to the president, would lead to a more stable geopolitical environment.
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.” Trump said. “All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”
When addressing North Korea, Trump did not mince words regarding the possibility for armed conflict, stating in plain language how he sees such a war playing out.
The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said. “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.”
Although he did not name any nations in particular, the President did address the fact that some nations have continued to provide support to Kim Jong un’s North Korean regime. The United States issued a series of sanctions against individuals and organizations within China and Russia in recent weeks, as both nations have seen an uptick in trade with North Korea since the United States began calling for their financial isolation in hopes of dissuading Kim’s nuclear pursuits.
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. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.”
He did, however, thank both Russia and China by name for voting in favor of new UN sanctions to be imposed on North Korean textile exports and fuel imports in a recent meeting of the Security Council.
It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.”
Trump moved directly from North Korea to Iran, another nation that has received criticism from the American president repeatedly since he took office.
The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. 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. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.”
The Iran nuclear deal, which was intended to halt the nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, has been the target for a good deal of Trump’s ire, though he has yet to take action to do away with the agreement that was brokered with a number of third-party nations. In his speech before the UN, however, Trump seemed to indicate that the U.S.’ involvement in the deal would soon be dissolved.
The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.”
Although the president praised a number of UN efforts, he did offer some criticism toward the international entity.
We also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.”
Similar to his statements regarding cost sharing with NATO, Trump told the assembly that the United States was paying too much into the operating costs of the UN at 22 percent, which he called an unfair burden, before saying, “but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.”
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