U.S. President Donald Trump (front center) participates in a session on reforming the United Nations at UN Headquarters on September 18.

Trump To Single Out North Korea, Iran ‘Threats’ In First Speech At UN General Assembly

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The FINANCIAL — U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to use his first address to the UN General Assembly to call for a harder line on North Korea and Iran.

Trump “will speak in extremely tough terms about the North Korean menace and the threat it poses to our security and the security of all the nations in that room,” a senior White House official said of the September 19 speech during the annual General Debate at the UN General Assembly.

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, according to RFE/RL.

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.

Trump is also due to voice concern about Iran, which the U.S. administration accuses of violating of the “spirit” of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and of interfering in the affairs of neighboring countries.

“Theirs is a shared menace and nations cannot be bystanders to history and if we don’t confront the threats now, they will only gather force and become more formidable,” the White House official said of North Korea and Iran.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Trump will speak about tension between the Iranian government’s policies and the desires of its people.

Asked if he planned to stick with the nuclear deal, Trump told reporters as he began a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 18, “You’ll be seeing very soon.”

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Earlier the same day, he suggested that the United States will walk away from the pact if it deems that the UN’s atomic agency is not tough enough in monitoring it.

“We will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal,” Trump said in a message to an annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that was read by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

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.

The prospect of Washington reneging on the agreement has worried some of the U.S. allies that helped negotiate it, including France.

French President Emmanuel Macron brought up the prospect of renegotiating provisions of the deal after their scheduled expiration in 2025 during his talks with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, a French official said. Macron also warned Rohani that Tehran should stop provoking the United States with its regional activities.

In a separate meeting with Trump, Macron sought to persuade the U.S. president not to abandon the deal, because that risks triggering a renewed arms race to develop nuclear weapons in the Middle East, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

Trump is also due to single out Venezuela for criticism in his speech at the UN General Assembly, a day after he told Latin Americans gathered in New York that Washington would take additional steps if Caracas moved toward authoritarian rule.

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Venezuela has been the scene of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s moves to increase his power and silence the opposition.

“Maduro defied his own people” and is guilty of “disastrous rule,” Trump said.

Washington has already slapped the South American country with sanctions.

Terrorism is also expected to be a major focus of Trump’s address to the General Assembly, referring to Islamist militants as “losers,” according to White House officials.

They also said Trump’s message to the world’s nations contains an “optimistic vision for international cooperation based on respecting individual sovereignty.”

At a meeting on UN reform on September 18, Trump encouraged member states to take a “bold stand” to change the UN’s “business-as-usual” approach rather than “be beholden to ways of the past which are not working.”

“Focus more on people, less on bureaucracy,” said Trump, a frequent critic of the UN. “It has not reached its potential because of the bureaucracy and mismanagement.”

“I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.”

Washington, the biggest UN financial contributor, has threatened deep funding cuts that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said would create an “unsolvable problem” for the organization.

In June, the General Assembly voted to cut $600 million from the organization’s nearly $8 billion annual peacekeeping budget amid pressure from the Trump administration.

The presidents of Afghanistan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan were among the world leaders to address the UN General Assembly’s General Debate on September 19.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, VOA, and the BBC


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