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Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea.
If the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” President Trump said in his address to the General Assembly.
He denounced North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, saying the nation “threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life” as a result of its nuclear weapons program.
“If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump emphasized that it was against the interest of the entire world for North Korea — which he called a “band of criminals” — to obtain missiles and nuclear weapons.
“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself,” he said of Mr. Kim.
Mr. Trump accused Mr. Kim of overseeing a regime that has starved its people, brutalized an imprisoned American college student who was returned home in a coma, and assassinated Mr. Kim’s older brother, a potential rival, with poison chemicals.
“If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons threatens the entire world,” Mr. Trump said.
While he thanked Russia and China for supporting recent United Nations sanctions on North Korea, Mr. Trump also took an indirect swipe at them for continuing to do business with Mr. Kim.
“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,” Mr. Trump said.
The president said that America would act alone if needed. He emphasized an “America first” agenda, and said that while the United States would “forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies,” his primary responsibility was to Americans.
“As president, I will always put America first, just like you as the leaders of your countries will always — and should always — put your countries first,” he said.
— MEGAN SPECIA
Trump denounces Iran as a ‘rogue nation.’
After condemning North Korea, Mr. Trump pivoted to the next “rogue nation” — Iran.
He called the Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment” that is “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
Mr. Trump has long portrayed Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and has suggested that the United States may abandon the 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration and five other major powers that limited Iran’s nuclear activities. So far Mr. Trump has grudgingly accepted the nuclear agreement despite having described it as a disgrace.
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction,” he said.
The world’s nuclear inspectors recently declared that they had found no evidence that Iran is breaching the agreement. A meeting of the parties that negotiated the deal with Iran — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — will take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday.
“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” Mr. Trump told the United Nations on Tuesday. “It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
Mr. Trump also called on the Iranian authorities to free the American citizens being held in Iranian prisons. At least four are incarcerated, and a fifth has been missing for a decade.
— RICK GLADSTONE and MEGAN SPECIA
Netanyahu echoes Trump on the Iran nuclear deal.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who applauded at Mr. Trump’s criticism of Iran, heaped more praise on the American leader when it was Mr. Netanyahu’s turn to speak a few hours later, thanking the administration for its “unequivocal support.”
Mr. Netanyahu said Mr. Trump had “rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran an embarrassment,” and was especially critical of the so-called sunset clauses in the agreement that will allow Iran to eventually increase uranium enrichment.
“In the last few months, we’ve all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime,” Mr. Netanyahu said in reference to North Korea. “Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the reins of a vast Iranian empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on Earth.”
Firing back at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian leaders who have threatened Israel’s destruction, Mr. Netanyahu said they “put themselves in mortal peril.”
Disarmament experts have said that they expect Iran to abide by the nuclear agreement regardless of Mr. Trump’s intentions. Iran has repeatedly said that it will never acquire nuclear weapons.
— RICK GLADSTONE
Macron calls the Iran deal ‘essential for peace.’
President Emmanuel Macron of France took sharp exception to President Trump’s remarks at the General Assembly.
He challenged Mr. Trump’s dismissal of the Iran nuclear agreement, defending it as “solid, robust and verifiable.” The French leader said that renouncing the deal with Iran would be a “grave error,” calling the agreement “essential for peace.”
Britain, China, Germany and Russia also hold that view, which could isolate the United States should Mr. Trump carry out his threat to quit the Iran accord.
Mr. Macron seconded Mr. Trump’s assertion that North Korea’s nuclear belligerence is dangerous and unacceptable. But while Mr. Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies, Mr. Macron said diplomatic pressure was the best solution.
“France rejects escalation and will not close any door to dialogue,” he said.
He also addressed a big issue that Mr. Trump conspicuously omitted: climate change.
“The planet will not negotiate with us,” Mr. Macron said in defending the Paris climate accord, which Mr. Trump has renounced.
“I fully respect decision of the United States, but the door will always be open,” Mr. Macron said, alluding to the possibility that the United States might someday rejoin the pact. “However, we will continue with all governments, we will continue to implement the Paris agreement.”
In what appeared to be a swipe at Mr. Trump’s embrace of oil and coal, Mr. Macron said that France’s position “may not be pleasing to those who believe the future is looking to the past.”
— RICK GLADSTONE
Trump is ‘prepared to take action’ on Venezuela.
Later in his speech, Mr. Trump turned his attention to the Americas.
He excoriated the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who has turned increasingly repressive as the country’s economy has collapsed.
Mr. Trump declared that the United States was “prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.” He said Mr. Maduro’s government had “destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.”
“This situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch as a responsible neighbor and friend,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump’s government has imposed economic sanctions on Mr. Maduro’s government but has not specified how it would exert further pressure. Last month, he caused a backlash among Latin American leaders by suggesting that he could order American military forces to intervene in Venezuela.
Venezuela responded on Tuesday by criticizing what it called Mr. Trump’s “fatal obsession with Venezuela, a product of his white supremacist ideas.”
“We’re ready to continue, on the political and diplomatic level, and on any level necessary, defeating the disastrous aggressions of the U.S. government,” the country’s government said in a statement.
Mr. Trump in his address on Tuesday also vowed to continue pressuring what he called the “corrupt, destabilizing regime” in Cuba.
“We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms,” he said.
— RICK GLADSTONE, MEGAN SPECIA and NICHOLAS CASEY
Trump gets rocket of his own — in salad form.
First he derided North Korea’s leader as “rocket man.” Then President Trump was served rocket salad for lunch.
Wild rocket actually. The menu described it as a salad that also combined romaine lettuce, chanterelle mushrooms and haricot verts, grilled stone fruit and “smothered in white balsamic & truffle vinaigrette.”
It was paired with a 2016 Sancerre.
The president sat at the head table with Secretary General António Guterres, whose speech earlier at the General Assembly was a sharp counterpoint to Mr. Trump’s bellicose, nationalist remarks in the hall.
Lunch for world leaders was served in the second-floor North Delegates Lounge, where on most days diplomats drink espresso out of paper cups.
Mr. Trump gave a toast to the “great, great potential” of the United Nations, telling those assembled there, “You’re going to do things that will be epic.”
On the wall behind the podium was a large tapestry of the Great Wall of China — a gift to the United Nations from Beijing.
Also seated at the head table with him were the presidents of Japan, South Korea and Liberia, along with the king of Jordan.
The main course was beef Wagyu tenderloin. Dessert included a chocolate mousse and raspberries, accompanied by a 40-year-old Port from the secretary general’s home country, Portugal.
How much jet fuel was spent on bringing this lunch to the table was unclear.
— SOMINI SENGUPTA
Trust ‘is being driven down,’ the secretary general warns.
Opening the General Assembly session, Mr. Guterres gravely warned about nuclear peril and climate change, and offered pointed reminders about “stronger international cooperation.”
“Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide,” he said in a speech that included English, French and Spanish.
President Trump could not be seen in the hall.
To Myanmar’s government, Mr. Guterres issued a blunt directive. “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” he said.
He added that he was encouraged by the remarks of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, but said that Rohingya people who have fled their homes must be allowed to return home in dignity.
On climate change, Mr. Guterres referred to the hurricanes that recently ravaged the United States and the Caribbean, and called for the world to step up its promises, made under the Paris climate agreement, to contain carbon emissions.
“We know enough today to act,” he said. “the science is unassailable.”
On the rights of refugees and migrants, he assailed what he called “closed doors and open hostility” and called on countries to treat those crossing borders with “simple decency and human compassion.”
— SOMINI SENGUPTA
The long and the short of speech lengths.
Speakers are supposed to take no more than 15 minutes, a voluntary limit that has been notoriously violated.
The longest speech was Fidel Castro’s in 1960, at 4 hours and 29 minutes, which the Cuban leader began with these words: “Although we have been given the reputation of speaking at great length, the Assembly need not worry. We shall do our best to be brief, saying only what we regard it as our duty to say here.”
The shortest speech, according to the United Nations Association-U.K., was one minute, in 1948, by Herbert Vere Evatt, foreign minister of Australia, who thanked the General Assembly for electing him president.
— RICK GLADSTONE
If the shoe fits, brandish it: famous speech props.
Khrushchev’s shoe: In his 1960 General Assembly speech (the same year as Castro’s marathoner), the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev brandished a shoe as he expressed rage at the Philippine delegation for having accused the Kremlin of swallowing Eastern Europe. Whether Khrushchev actually banged the shoe on the podium — and whether it was even his shoe — has long been in dispute.
Netanyahu’s bomb: In 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel displayed a cartoonish drawing of a bomb to illustrate his belief that Iran could not be trusted in negotiations and was capable of quickly developing nuclear weapons. Critics ridiculed the prop, which also created confusion in Israel.
— RICK GLADSTONE
When it’s time to speak, Brazil goes first.
Brazil has almost always been the first to speak at the General Assembly, a tradition traced to the early days of the United Nations and the Cold War.
According to Antonio Patriota, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations, Brazil demonstrated deft diplomacy in presiding over the first few General Assembly debates. That, he said, convinced the two main powers — the United States and the Soviet Union — that Brazil should always speak first. The United States, the host country, has almost always gone second.
There have been some notable exceptions. In 1983 and 1984, the United States went first and Brazil second. Last year, Chad went second because President Barack Obama was running late.
— SOMINI SENGUPTA AND RICK GLADSTONE
Qaddafi’s (very) brief tenure as a Trump tenant.
In 2009, as Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya was making arrangements to speak at the General Assembly, he was desperate to find a property in the New York metropolitan area that would permit him to pitch his Bedouin tent.
Colonel Qaddafi finally thought he had a willing landlord: Donald J. Trump, who owned a property in Bedford, N.Y., that was a possibility. The prospect created a storm of opposition among officials in Westchester County, and shortly after the tent was erected, the Trump Organization ordered it dismantled. “Mr. Qaddafi will not be going to the property,” the organization said.
— RICK GLADSTONE
What the U.S. pays for at the U.N.
President Trump has said that the United States carries a disproportionate burden in keeping the world safe.
So what does the United States shoulder at the United Nations?
Washington is the organization’s largest single financial contributor, paying 22 percent of its $5.4 billion core budget. The United States also pays a slightly larger share of the United Nations peacekeeping budget, although this year its share of those costs dropped to 25 percent from 28 percent.
Militarily, the United States shoulders virtually nothing. Of the roughly 97,000 soldiers and police officers serving on United Nations peacekeeping missions, 74 are American, according to figures released in June.
The Trump administration has proposed significant cuts in its funding of the organization. A spokesman for the global body said such reductions would “simply make it impossible” for the United Nations to maintain essential operations like hosting Syria peace talks, monitoring nuclear proliferation and immunizing children.
— SOMINI SENGUPTA
Report on cost of refugees counters Trump view.
As President Trump considers cutting the number of refugees allowed into the United States to the lowest level in decades, his administration is grappling with a new appraisal of what refugees add to the nation: tens of billions of dollars in taxes.
One of the arguments for such a reduction is that refugees cost American taxpayers too much money. But a draft report commissioned by the administration found that refugees put a lot more money into government coffers than they take out: $63 billion from 2004 to 2014, according to the study, which was carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services and has been seen by The New York Times.
The United Nations has repeatedly appealed to countries around the world to help resettle 1.2 million refugees fleeing war and persecution.
— SOMINI SENGUPTA