On Tuesday morning, September 19, President Donald Trump gave a speech before the United Nations. Although he touched on many topics, including how he would put America first and expected other world leaders to put their own countries first, as well, the portion of his speech that received the most attention was undoubtedly his comments regarding the escalating situation with North Korea.
North Korea has been moving closer to developing a nuclear weapon that could reach the mainland United States, and it has gotten the world’s attention through numerous missile tests and one underground test of what it claims was a hydrogen bomb. Since then, Trump has begun calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man,” and even said “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission” in his speech.
Trump dialed up his rhetoric even further when he said that despite the United States possessing great strength and patience, if North Korea attacks the country or its allies, the United States only choice will be to “totally destroy North Korea.”
There were 193 people present, and the world leaders were stunned to hear this proclamation. Most have yet to comment on the speech, although Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, was seen crossing her arms while Trump spoke and later called it “the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.” German chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t criticize the speech but did say that she would do anything she could to resolve the situation diplomatically.
Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, also wants to work towards a diplomatic solution, and he feels that the recent sanctions put in place could help. However, he also mentioned that North Korea’s neighbors will need to assist with that for the sanctions to work.
Among politicians in the United States, there were some who supported Trump and others who felt he went too far. Although Mitt Romney and Trump have had their disagreements in the past, Romney reacted positively to Trump’s speech on Twitter. Ed Markey, a Democrat and a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, didn’t feel the same. He said that Trump had other options available and could use those to negotiate with North Korea.
According to the transcript, Trump spoke for a full 42 minutes. Other topics he touched on included the Iran deal made by Barack Obama, issues in Venezuela and what Trump continues to refer to as “radical Islamic terror.”