UPDATE: Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea in first U.N. Speech
While the U.S. could take military action, Trump urged the U.N. to join together in curtailing North Korea's nuclear efforts.
UPDATE: President Donald Trump, in his first address to the United Nations, derided Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, as a “rocket man” on Tuesday as the president warned that he may be forced to "totally destroy" the rogue nation.
"If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," Trump said, as he detailed the horrors of what he called the "depraved" North Korean regime.
"Rocket man is on a suicide mission," he said, using a nickname for Kim that refers to the North Korean leader's recent missile tests.
"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 North Korean ambassador to the U.N. walked out before Trump's speech started.
Trump’s remarks to the world body come amid sharply escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Both the president and Defense Secretary James Mattis have said all options are on the table for dealing with the threat from North Korea.
While the U.S. could take military action, Trump urged the U.N. to join togetherin curtailing North Korea's nuclear efforts.
"We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril," Trump said, issuing a call to action that hinged on the responsibility of governments to their citizens.
"As president of the United States, I will always put America first," he said in a phrase reminiscent of one of his key presidential campaign slogans.
And Trump urged other leaders to do likewise and always "put your countries first."
The president also took on Iran, dismissing the nuclear deal between Tehran and the U.S. and other world powers that lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program. Trump ripped the deal as an "embarrassment" and vowed that this would not be the last the world hears about it — "believe me."
Iran's future, Trump said, comes to continuing on its current road or returning to the nation's "roots as a center of civilization, culture and wealth."
The speech was a nationalist appeal — which had helped fuel Trump's rise to the presidency in 2016 and that his administration has grappled with in its policy making, both foreign and domestic.
Trump said that under his watch the U.S. is a nation that the world would no longer take advantage of, be it diplomatically or on matters of trade.
While the president said he seeks strong trade ties around the world, that trade "must be fair and it must be reciprocal."
While Trump promised to uphold America's interests above all, "we also realize it's in everyone's interest to seek a future where nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure."
Those complaints about lack of fairness and reciprocity are not new.
Trump left the Paris Climate Accord because he lamented it was unfair to U.S. workers. He's railed against multilateral trade deals, like NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, that he feels don't benefit the U.S.
"Are we still patriots?" Trump asked in his address. "Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their future?"
PREVIOUS STORY: President Donald Trump will make his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, projecting his "America First" platform onto the world stage with an appeal for "burden sharing" in the face of global challenges and putting North Korea squarely in his sights.
Trump will call on nations "to do their part in confronting" the threat of "rogue regimes," like North Korea and Iran, a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing on Monday.
The North Korea "menace" will be a central focus of the president's address, the official said, adding that Trump will paint a picture of an increasingly dire situation in the face of inaction.
Big day at the United Nations - many good things, and some tricky ones, happening. We have a great team. Big speech at 10:00 A.M.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017
In a tweet over the weekend, Trump referred to North Korea's leader as "Rocket Man" — an apparent reference to the country's recent repeated missile tests.
"If we don't confront these threats now, they will only gather force and become more formidable," the official said.
The White House has long held an "all options on the table" approach to North Korea, declining to negotiate or telegraph its plans publicly. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday that "there are many military options, in concert with our allies" for North Korea.
The White House declined to offer specifics on what Trump might press for during his UN address in regard to action against North Korea.
"Everyone in the world who needs to be delivered a message in the speech will understand what messages are being delivered to them, and in the way and fashion in which that message is being delivered," the official said.
The stakes for Trump's speech are high, with political watchers and the world community anxiously waiting to see what the mercurial president — who has had strained interactions with some longtime U.S. allies since taking office — will say.
The White House did nothing to tamp down on the importance of the address, with the senior official calling it an "incredible moment and an enormous opportunity to demonstrate U.S. leadership and U.S. values.
"And that's why the president has, again, spent so much time honing and crafting this address to express that vision to the world," the official added.
Earlier Monday, during a session focused on reforming the United Nations, Trump offered his support for reform while stressing the importance "that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that's militarily or financially."