President Donald Trump repeated his threat to “destroy North Korea” in a tweet on Tuesday, hours after he made the statement in his first speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly and an international audience.
“Now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life,” Trump said. “…. 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.”
The president repeated a taunt he threw at North Korea president Kim Jong Un over the weekend, calling him “rocket man.”
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for him and his regime,” Trump said of Kim.
While strong statements condemning countries for aggressive action are not new, it is unusual for a sitting leader to promise to destroy a nation.
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have escalated since Trump came into office. A series of tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles by North Korea prompted Trump last month to promise “fire and fury” like the world had never seen if the tests continued, or if a threatened strike near Guam took place.
Soon after the U.N. speech, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders downplayed the statement in a tweet comparing what Trump said to something President Barack Obama said while in office.
Obama was not advocating a military strike against North Korea but was saying the United States was capable of destroying the country. His statement, "We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals, but aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, [South] Korea,” came after a missile test by North Korea.
Trump also condemned actions by Iran and said that the Middle East country is a “rouge nation.”
He said the deal with Iran to curb the country’s nuclear weapons program was “an embarrassment” to the United States.
“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction,” Trump said.