U.S. President Donald Trump has called on members of the United Nations General Assembly to take a harder line against threats posed by North Korea and Iran, saying the United States could be "forced" to "totally destroy North Korea" if the UN fails to convince Pyongyang to "cease its hostile behavior" and suggesting that Washington may withdraw from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.
In his first address to the UN General Assembly, Trump spoke in tough terms about the threat to global security posed by North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man," saying he was on a "suicide mission."
"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," Trump said.
"Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime," Trump said. "The United States is ready, willing, and able. But hopefully, this will not be necessary. That's what the United Nations is all about. That's what the United Nations is for. Let's see how they do."
Trump welcomed recent UN Security Council sanctions imposed against North Korea over its latest nuclear weapons tests, but told the General Assembly that "we must do much more."
"It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior," Trump said.
"If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," Trump said. "When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength."
The UN Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang warned on September 18 that more sanctions and pressure will only make it accelerate its nuclear program.
The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers, Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov, called for a peaceful end to what they termed a "vicious cycle" on the Korean Peninsula as they met in New York, China's Foreign Ministry said on September 19.
Moscow and Beijing are calling for North Korea to stop its missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the United States and South Korea holding off on future large joint military drills.
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Trump also said it was "far past time" for the countries of the world to confront Iran, which he called "a reckless" and "murderous regime" that is "undermining peace throughout the Middle East."
He said Tehran cannot be allowed to continue developing its "dangerous missiles."
Speaking about Iran's nuclear deal with six world powers, Trump told the General Assembly, "We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program."
Trump said the Iran nuclear 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," Trump said.
"The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy," Trump said, describing the country as an "economically-depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos."
"It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction."
Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded to Trump's criticism by telling reporters the United States would forfeit the world's trust if it exited the 2015 nuclear deal – which was also signed by France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Trump's remarks at the UN as "shameless" and "ignorant."
"Especially in the part where he mentioned the great Iranian nation, his comments were without content, just empty slogans that are not worth reacting to," Zarif told Iran's state-run Fars news agency.
"The shameless and ignorant comments of the U.S. president, which ignore the realities of Iran in its domestic and foreign policies and its fight against terrorism, reveal the depth of how uniformed Trump is," Zarif said. "It also reveals his demagogic behavior and rhetoric."
In an English-language post to Twitter, Zarif said, "Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times, not the 21st-century UN-unworthy of a reply. Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one."
French President Emmanuel Macron said it was a big mistake to criticize the nuclear deal, and that not respecting the accord would be irresponsible because it was a "good deal."
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump's remarks about Iran, saying in a statement that he had "never heard a bolder or more courageous speech" at the United Nations in more than 30 years.
U.S. and UN watchdogs monitoring compliance have found Iran has adhered to the accord, which eased international economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.
However, the Trump administration has frequently charged that Tehran breaks the "spirit" of the deal, including by continuing to test-launch ballistic missiles and rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads. It has also lobbied for tougher nuclear inspections in Iran, including at military sites.
Trump also had criticism for Russia and China, saying, "We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea."
"We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow," Trump said.