World

US threatens to 'totally destroy' North Korea

President Donald Trump's first UN address

UNITED NATIONS: US President Donald Trump said yesterday that the US will be forced to "totally destroy" North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.

Loud murmurs filled the green-marbled UN General Assembly hall when Mr Trump issued his sternest warning yet to North Korea, whose ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests have rattled the globe.

Unless North Korea backs down, he said, "we will have no choice than to totally destroy North Korea".

"Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime," he said.

North Korea's mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Trump's remarks.

A junior North Korean diplomat attended Mr Trump's speech, the North Korean UN mission said.

In his first appearance at the annual gathering of world leaders, the US president used a 41-minute speech to take aim at Iran's nuclear ambitions and regional influence, Venezuela's collapsing democracy and the threat of Islamist extremists.

He also criticised the Cuban government. But his strongest words were at North Korea.

Mr Trump urged UN member states to work to isolate the North Korean government until it ceases its "hostile" behaviour.

He said North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles "threatens the entire world with unthinkable cost of human life."

In what may have been a veiled prod at China, North Korea's major trading partner, Mr Trump said: "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."

Turning to Iran, Mr Trump called the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, an embarrassment and hinted that he may not recertify the agreement when it comes up for a mid-October deadline.

He called Iran an "economically depleted rogue state" that exports violence.

Reading carefully from a script, Trump said the US military would soon be the strongest it has ever been.

Financial markets showed little reaction to Trump's speech. - REUTERS

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