In fiery speech, Donald Trump calls North Korea ‘hell’, warns he has US nuclear submarine ‘appropriately positioned’
Trump speaks at South Korea’s National Assembly, in the first address to the legislature by an American president in nearly a quarter-century
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned against the threats posed by “a country ruled by a cult” in North Korea in a hard line speech aimed at rallying international pressure on Pyongyang over its escalating nuclear weapons programme.
Trump also issued a call to all nations to deny aid and help to North Korea as a way to choke off the rogue regime, saying it was a matter of conscience for the world to stand together against the nuclear threat.
Calling out by name Russia and China – where Trump visits next – he said that all responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea – to deny it any form of support, supply, or acceptance.
He offered a stinging attack on leader Kim Jong-un, calling North Korea “a hell that no person deserves.”
“The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat – or, worse still, to enable it – the weight of this crisis is on your conscience,” Trump said at South Korea’s National Assembly, in the first address to the legislature by an American president in nearly a quarter-century.
Rallying the world to stand up to the North Korean threat is the central mission of Trump’s trip to Asia. On Tuesday, Trump appeared to temper his often fiery rhetoric toward North Korea, instead calling on them to come to the bargaining table and “make a deal” on its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
On Wednesday, Trump said he’s ready to offer North Korea “a path to a much better future” if it puts an end to aggression, stops development of ballistic missiles and undergoes “complete, verifiable and total denuclearisation.”
Trump cited the presence of three aircraft carriers in the region, a muscular military presence in the Pacific that belied his more conciliatory tone on his first full day in South Korea.
He also noted that the US has nearby a “nuclear submarine, appropriately positioned”.
“I want peace through strength.”
“Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilised nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” Trump said.
“We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.”
He also gave a strong assurance the US would back South Korea and their security alliance, which was something the South Koreans were looking for from his speech and visit.
“We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked,” Trump said.
“We will not allow American cities to be threatened. We will not be intimidated.”
On Tuesday, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he will meet in Beijing for a three-day summit starting Wednesday, for being “very helpful” and added that China is “trying very hard to solve the problem.” He also offered hope that Russia will “likewise be helpful.”
Trump has said he expects to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at a regional summit later in the week, either in Vietnam or the Philippines.
On Wednesday morning, Trump attempted to make a surprise visit to the demilitarised zone, but his helicopter was forced to turn back because of bad weather.
Moon was expected to join him at the dangerous border, in what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders billed as a “historic moment” – the first time leaders of both the United States and South Korea would have visited the DMZ together.
Sanders alerted reporters travelling with the president to the surprise trip by holding up a piece of paper on which “DMZ” had been scrawled and announcing,
“This is where we’re going.”
White House officials, at least publicly, had scrapped the idea of a trip to the DMZ before Trump left Washington – with one even describing it as “a little bit of a cliché” – but the president had repeatedly hinted at “a surprise” while in South Korea, and many aides privately said they didn’t think Trump would be able to resist a visit – and the ensuing photo opportunity.
Bloomberg and The Washington Post