‘SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO WALK AWAY’: US, North Korea offer dueling accounts of talks breakdown

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — In open dispute, the U.S. and North Korea offered contradictory accounts Thursday of why the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un broke down, though both pointed to punishing American sanctions as a sticking point in the high-stakes nuclear negotiation.

President Trump, on his way back to Washington on Thursday, said before leaving Hanoi that the talks collapsed because North Korea’s leader insisted that all the sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the North firmly committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

But North Korea challenged that account, insisting it had asked only partial sanctions relief in exchange for shutting down its main nuclear complex. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho commented on the talks during an abruptly scheduled middle-of-the-night news conference after Trump was in the air.

Ri said the North was also ready to offer in writing a permanent halt of the country’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and Washington had wasted an opportunity that “may not come again.” He said the North’s position won’t change even if the United States offers to resume another round of dialogue.

On Friday, North Korea’s official news agency put a more positive spin on the summit, saying Trump and Kim “had a constructive and candid exchange of their opinions over the practical issues arising in opening up a new era of the improvement” of relations between the two nations.

Trump made no mention of the disagreement as he addressed U.S. troops during a stopover at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, though White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said he was aware of Ri’s comments.

Instead, Trump focused on U.S. military might and offered a broad warning to U.S. enemies.

“America does not seek conflict, but if we are forced to defend ourselves we will fight and we will win in an overwhelming fashion,” he declared.

Earlier on Thursday in Hanoi, Trump had told reporters the North had demanded a full removal of sanctions in exchange for shutting the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Trump said that there had been a proposed agreement “ready to be signed.” However, he said after the summit was cut short, “Sometimes you have to walk.”

The demise of the talks came after Trump and Kim had appeared ready to inch toward normalizing relations between their still technically warring nations.

The American leader had dampened expectations that the negotiations would yield an agreement by North Korea to take concrete steps toward ending a nuclear program that Pyongyang likely sees as its strongest security guarantee. However, Kim, when asked whether he was ready to denuclearize, had said, “If I’m not willing to do that I won’t be here right now.”

But hours after both nations had seemed hopeful of a deal of some kind, the two leaders’ motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other, lunch canceled and signing ceremony scuttled. The president’s closing news conference was hurriedly moved up, and he departed for Washington more than two hours ahead of schedule.

The breakdown denied Trump a much-needed triumph amid growing political turmoil back home and the path forward now appears uncertain. Trump insisted his relations with Kim remain warm, but he did not commit to having a third summit with the North Korean leader, saying a possible next meeting “may not be for a long time.”

Ri’s comments reflected the North Koreans’ disappointment, though there was a notable absence of bluster or threats by either side.

Both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said significant progress had been made in Hanoi, but the two sides appeared to be galaxies apart on an agreement that would live up to stated American goals.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Trump told reporters.

Kim, he said, appeared willing to close his country’s main nuclear facility, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, if the sanctions were lifted. But that would leave him with missiles, warheads and weapon systems, Pompeo said. There are also suspected hidden nuclear fuel production sites around the country.

“We couldn’t quite get there today,” Pompeo said, minimizing what seemed to be a chasm between the two sides.

Longstanding U.S. policy has insisted that U.S. sanctions on North Korea would not be lifted until that country committed to, if not concluded, complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Trump declined to restate that goal Thursday, insisting he wanted flexibility in talks with Kim.

Ri said North Korea proposed that U.S. and North Korean technicians jointly dismantle plutonium, uranium-enrichment and other nuclear material-making facilities at Yongbyon in the presence of U.S. experts.

He said it is “the biggest denuclearization measure that we can take” given the current status of mutual confidence between the two countries.

In return, Ri said North Korea asked the U.S. to lift five kinds of sanctions that are related to its civilian economy and public livelihoods.

The failure in Hanoi laid bare a risk in Trump’s negotiating style. Preferring one-on-one meetings with his foreign counterparts, his administration often eschews the staff-level work usually done in advance to assure a deal.

There was disappointment and alarm in South Korea, whose liberal leader has been a leading orchestrator of the nuclear diplomacy and who needs a breakthrough to restart lucrative engagement projects with the impoverished North. Yonhap news agency said that the clock on the Korean Peninsula’s security situation has “turned back to zero” and diplomacy is now “at a crossroads.”

The two leaders had seemed to find a point of agreement when Kim, who fielded questions from American journalists for the first time, was asked if the U.S. may open a liaison office in North Korea. Trump declared it “not a bad idea,” and Kim called it “welcomable.” Such an office would mark the first official U.S. presence in North Korea and a significant grant to a country that has long been deliberately starved of international recognition.

There had long been skepticism that Kim would be willing to give away the weapons his nation had spent decades developing and Pyongyang felt ensured its survival. But even after the summit ended, Trump praised Kim’s commitment to continue a moratorium on missile testing.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to the contents of this report.

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AP: Trump, Kim share smiles, dinner before nuke talks

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un projected optimism Wednesday as they opened high-stakes talks about curbing Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, a problem that has bedeviled generations of leaders.

The second summit between Trump and Kim came against the backdrop of the American president’s domestic troubles. As the leaders dined on steak and chocolate cake, Trump’s former personal attorney was readying explosive congressional testimony claiming the president is a “conman” who lied abut his business interests with Russia.

The turmoil in Washington has escalated concerns that Trump, eager for an agreement, would give Kim too much and get too little in return. The leaders’ first meeting in June was heavy with historic pageantry but light on any enforceable agreements for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal. Still, both offered optimistic words before dinner.

“A lot of things are going to be solved I hope,” Trump said as dinner began. “I think it will lead to a wonderful, really a wonderful situation long-term.”

Kim said his country had long been “misunderstood” and viewed with “distrust.”

“There have been efforts, whether out of hostility or not, to block the path that we intend to take,” he said. “But we have overcome all these and walked toward each other again and we’ve now reached Hanoi after 261 days” since their first meeting in Singapore.

“We have met again here and I am confident that we can achieve great results that everyone welcomes,” he added.

The leaders’ formal talks continue Thursday. Possible outcomes could include a peace declaration for the Korean War that the North could use to eventually push for the reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, or sanctions relief that could allow Pyongyang to pursue lucrative economic projects with the South.

Skeptics say such agreements would leave in place a significant portion of North Korea’s nuclear-tipped missiles while robbing the United States of its negotiating leverage going forward.

Asked if this summit would yield a political declaration to end the Korean War, Trump told reporters: “We’ll see.”

Trump’s schedule for Thursday promised a “joint agreement signing ceremony” after their meetings conclude.

The two leaders were joined for dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Kim Yong Chol, a former military spy chief and Kim’s point man in negotiations, and North Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Ri Yong Ho. Interpreters for each side also attended.

Trump did not answer a question from a reporter about his former attorney Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony. Shortly after, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders excluded some U.S. reporters, including the reporter from The Associated Press who asked the president about Cohen, from covering Trump and Kim’s dinner.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group,” she said in a statement.

Still, Trump was unable to ignore the drama playing out thousands of miles away, tweeting that Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close White House ally, said the Cohen hearing was evidence that “Democrats’ hatred of Trump is undercutting an important foreign policy effort and is way out of line.”

Anticipation for what could be accomplished at the summit ran high in Hanoi, and there were cheers and gasps as Trump’s motorcade barreled through this bustling city. Crowds three or four deep lined the streets and jockeyed to capture his procession with their mobile phones.

The carnival-like atmosphere in the Vietnamese capital, with street artists painting likenesses of the leaders and vendors hawking T-shirts showing Kim waving and Trump giving a thumbs-up, contrasted with the serious items on their agenda: North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump has been trying to convince Kim that his nation could thrive economically like the host country, Vietnam, if he would end his nuclear weapons program.

“I think that your country has tremendous economic potential — unbelievable, unlimited,” Trump said. “I think that you will have a tremendous future with your country — a great leader — and I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen.”

The summit venue, the colonial and neoclassical Sofitel Legend Metropole in the old part of Hanoi, came with its own dose of history: Trump was trying to talk Kim into giving up his nuclear arsenal at a hotel with a bomb shelter that protected the likes of actress Jane Fonda and singer Joan Baez from American air raids during the Vietnam War.

After their first summit, where Trump and Kim signed a joint statement agreeing to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the president prematurely declared victory, tweeting that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” The facts did not support that claim.

North Korea has spent decades, at great economic sacrifice, building its nuclear program, and there are doubts that it will give away that program without getting something substantial from the U.S.

The Korean conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, essentially a cease-fire signed by North Korea, China and the 17-nation, U.S.-led United Nations Command. A peace declaration would amount to a political statement, ostensibly teeing up talks for a formal peace treaty that would involve other nations.

North and South Korea also want U.S. sanctions dialed back so they can resurrect two major symbols of rapprochement that provided $150 million a year to the impoverished North by some estimates: a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong and South Korean tours to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort.

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AP journalists Hau Dinh and Hyung-jin Kim in Hanoi and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

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‘THEY DON’T WANT ME TO WIN’: Trump accuses China of ‘attempting to interfere’ with 2018 US election

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the upcoming United States congressional elections, claiming the Chinese are motivated by opposition to his tough trade policy.

The Chinese said it wasn’t so.

Trump, speaking in front of world leaders while chairing the United Nations Security Council for the first time, made his accusation amid the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election to help him and concerns that the November elections could also be vulnerable.

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

Asked later what evidence he had, he replied, “Plenty of evidence,” but he didn’t provide any.

H alleged again, “They would like to see me not win because this is the first time ever that they’ve been confronted on trade. And we are winning and we’re winning big. And they can’t get involved with our elections.”

A Chinese delegate shrugged when he heard Trump’s statement via translation in the General Assembly. China later denied Trump’s accusation.

“We do not and will not interfere in any countries’ domestic affairs,” said Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the United Nations. “We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China, and we call on other countries to also observe the purposes of the U.N. charter and not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.”

U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Trump’s remark.

There is extensive evidence linking Russia to attempts to penetrate U.S. elections systems and to influence U.S. voters. But with the elections less than two months away, U.S. intelligence and election-protection officials have not cited any specific, credible Chinese efforts.

Officials say China’s cyber-espionage operations targeting U.S. defense and commerce have been formidable, however. And Trump’s claim comes amid an escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing, spurred by their growing trade dispute.

Each imposed tariff increases on the other’s goods Monday, and Beijing accused the Trump administration of bullying. A Chinese official said China cannot hold talks on ending the trade dispute while the U.S. “holds a knife” to Beijing’s neck by imposing tariff hikes.

U.S. intelligence officials have said they are not now seeing the intensity of Russian intervention registered in 2016 and are also concerned about activity by China, Iran and North Korea. Trump’s statement caught lawmakers and some national security officials off guard as Beijing has not been singled out as the most worrisome foe.

Thomas Rid, a Johns Hopkins cybersecurity expert, said, “I am not aware of any evidence of Chinese interference in the midterm elections.” He said, “Chinese influence operations tend to be more subtle, less public, and business-related.”

China has been accused of interfering in an election before, although not in the United States. Cybersecurity firm Fire Eye released a report in July describing “active compromises of multiple Cambodia entities related to the country’s electoral system” including the National Election Commission, before the country’s July 29 general elections.

The hackers’ methods matched a Chinese-linked hacking group tied to multiple cyber operations that have breached U.S. defense contractors, universities and engineering and maritime technology development firms.

Trump also used his moment chairing the Security Council meeting about nuclear proliferation to issue a strong warning to nuclear-aspirant Iran, which he deemed the “world’s leading sponsor of terror” fueling “conflict around the region and far beyond.”

The president has withdrawn the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, accusing the country of destabilizing actions throughout the region and support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Tough sanctions are due to kick in against Tehran in November, and Trump warned that there would be “severe consequences” for any nation that defied them.

Despite his tough talk, Trump said he could envision relations with Iran moving along a similar “trajectory” as ones with North Korea. A year ago at the U.N., Trump belittled its leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” and threatened to annihilate the country, but on Wednesday he touted the “the wonderful relationship” with Kim and teased that details of a second summit between the two men could be released soon.

He also condemned violence in the ongoing bloody civil war in Syria, saying that the “butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran.”

Trump also waded into thorny Middle East politics, endorsing the two-state solution to bring an end the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. A day after being greeted with laughter by world leaders still uncertain how to manage his “America First” ideology, Trump explicitly backed Israel, noted the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and suggested that he saw progress on the horizon for Middle East peace.

“I like two-state solution,” Trump said in his most clear endorsement of the plan as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “That’s what I think works best.”

Trump indicated that moving the embassy was “a big chip” the U.S. delivered to the Israelis.

“I took probably the biggest chip off the table. And so obviously they have to start, you know, we have to make a fair deal. We have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties.”

“Now that will also mean that Israel will have to do something that is good for the other side.”

The two-state “solution” is mostly aspirational. Ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians over the division of territory, borders and governance has spawned violence going back years and long stymied Mideast peace efforts.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv triggered considerable protest from the Palestinians and expressions of condemnation from many American allies who worried about further violence that could destabilize the fragile region. Trump said that his administration’s peace plan, in part helmed by his son-in-law senior adviser Jared Kushner, would be released in the coming months.


Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

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REPORT: Iran says US wants to overthrow govt, rejects two-way talks

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States on Tuesday of trying to overthrow his government, rejecting bilateral talks after President Donald Trump predicted stepped-up U.S. sanctions would get Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

Addressing world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, Rouhani accused the Trump administration of violating “state obligations” from the Obama administration by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the U.S. and five other major powers.

“On what basis and criteria can we enter into an agreement with an administration misbehaving such as this?” Rouhani asked. “It is ironic that the U.S. government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks.”

Rouhani invited the U.S. to come back to negotiations within the U.N. Security Council, which endorsed the nuclear deal. There, he said, both sides can listen to each other.

“Beginning the dialogue starts with ending threats and unjust sanctions that negate the principles of ethics and international law,” he said.

In remarks released while Rouhani was still talking, National Security Adviser John Bolton doubled down on the decision to withdraw from the deal, echoing his president’s strong language and using blunt language to dismiss any entreaties from Tehran. He called the scrapped Iran deal “the worst diplomatic debacle in American history.”

“According to the mullahs in Tehran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno,” Bolton said in remarks prepared for delivery at a New York meeting convened to oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“So, I might imagine they would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be HELL to PAY,” Bolton said.

The capitalizations were included in the text of the quotes released to journalists.

Rouhani, in his General Assembly speech, targeted Trump in language if not directly in name. He condemned “recklessness and disregard of some states for international values and institutions.”

Rouhani laid into leaders who believe they can “ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism” and through what he called “xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition.”

Trump, in his own speech, said Americans “reject the ideology of globalism” in favor of what he called “the doctrine of patriotism.” He also blasted what he called Iran’s “corrupt dictatorship.”

Rouhani also said U.S. sanctions against his country amount to an “economic war” that’s disrupting trade and will harm people beyond Iran.

Trump’s administration has reinstated sanctions on Iran after pulling Washington out of the multinational 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. Trump says the deal was a “horrible” agreement that didn’t do enough to contain Iranian “aggression.”

In remarks earlier Tuesday, Trump predicted that the pressure from renewed sanctions would force Iran back to the table to negotiate.

But Rouhani noted that Iranians has endured sanctions before and “can overcome this difficult phase as well.”

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Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Maria Sanminiatelli contributed to this report.

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GOWDY GONE: ‘Bulldog’ South Carolina congressman says he will not seek re-election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tough-talking South Carolina Republican lawmaker and House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy announced Wednesday he will resign from Congress at the end of his term.

“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system,” Gowdy said in a statement released to the press.

Gowdy, 53, says he feels driven at this point in his life to turn his attention toward the ongoing search for justice.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” said Gowdy. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”

Known for his no-nonsense approach to Congressional issues and demand for truth, Gowdy has long been courted by his fellow Republicans to run for Speaker of the House, an offer he has often rejected.

A former prosecutor, Gowdy made a name for himself as chairman of a special House panel charged with investigating then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, during which Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and diplomatic security agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.

Gowdy’s announcement sparked overwhelming response from his Congressional colleagues, who said they were sorry to see him go.

“He will be sorely missed in Congress, and I wish him and his family success in their future endeavors,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement.

“I always said the reason @TGowdySC was amazing at his job was bc he disliked politics so much. Trey, thank you for your impatience, sacrifice, and fight to make our country a more just place. SC and our country thank you for your service. I thank you for your friendship,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley tweeted in response to the news.

“There is a time to come and a time to go,” Gowdy tweeted to his followers. “This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system.”

“The NRCC is confident this seat will stay solidly in Republican control in November,” Stivers said of Gowdy’s soon-to-be-empty seat.

Gowdy’s northern South Carolina district is traditionally heavily Republican and includes the city of Greenville, which went solidly for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

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AMERICA VS THE WORLD: UN votes to condemn US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday defied warnings from the United States by overwhelmingly passing a resolution which condemned President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A total of 128 countries voted in favor of condemning Trump’s declaration. Just seven states, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against the resolution.

Speaking before the UN assembly prior to the vote, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, defended the Trump administration’s decision, saying the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital represented “the will of the people”.

“The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that,” Haley said. “The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the president’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy.”

“America will put our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “That’s what the American people want us to do. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Haley then went on to issue a fierce warning to states who chose to support the resolution.

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” vowed Hailey. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Thursday’s vote “will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N. and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N., and this vote will be remembered,” Hailey warned.

In a video statement following the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital — always was, always will be.” However, Netanyahu added, “I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.”

Referring to the United States as Israel’s strongest ally, Netanyahu thanked President Donald Trump and Haley for their “stalwart defense” of Israel and “the truth”.

In a declaration of victory, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said: “The vote is a victory for Palestine.” The spokesperson went on to pledge that the Palestinians would “continue our efforts in the United Nations and at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

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‘DECLARATION OF WAR’: North Korea steps up threats against US; Vows to tame America ‘with fire’

PYONGYANG — North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday issued a new round of threats against the U.S. in claims that President Donald Trump’s recent comments about leader Kim Jong Un were a “declaration of war”.

Referencing the president’s tweet over the weekend in which he claimed that North Korea “won’t be around much longer,” Ri Yong Ho said the rogue state would do whatever was necessary to protect itself from what Jong Un called a “mentally deranged” President Trump.

“Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn’t be around much longer and declared a war on our country,” Ri Yong Ho told reporters outside his hotel across the street from the United Nations in New York on Monday. “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive countermeasures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country.”

The ongoing war of words between the United States and North Korea reached new heights last week after President Trump, while addressing the United Nations on September 19, referred to Kim Jong Un as a “rocket man” who is “on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life,” Trump said during the U.N. speech, adding that the United States, if provoked, was prepared to totally destroy” the communist nation’s dictatorship.

Quick to respond to Trump’s comments, Jong Un referred to Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and vowed to “surely and definitely tame” the U.S. “with fire.”

As the tit for tat continues between the two leaders, response continues to come in from leaders around the world who are expressing their concerns that the war of words will escalate into full blown nuclear war.

China, North Korea’s staunchest ally, pointed the blame for the tensions at President Trump, claiming his rhetoric was “pushing” North Korea toward an act of aggression.

“Trump’s political chest thumping is unhelpful and it will only push [North Korea] to pursue even riskier policies because the survival of the regime is at stake,” said an official spokesperson for China in the country’s People’s Daily newspaper.

Russia has also weighed in on the ongoing conflict, with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, saying in a statement, “We are witnessing a very dangerous confrontation spiral,” calling the exchange between Trump and Kim “military hysteria” and a foreign affairs “disaster.”

State Department spokesperson Katina Adams responded to North Korea’s threats on Monday, saying, “The United States has not ‘declared war’ on North Korea. We continue to seek a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Adams also defended the right of the US to conduct flyovers in international airspace, adding: “No nation has the right to fire on other nations’ aircraft or ships in international airspace or waters.”

Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesperson, also responded to Ri Yong Ho’s comments, saying in a statement that the US military “will take all options to make sure that we safeguard our allies and our partners and our homeland so if North Korea does not stop their provocative actions we’ll make sure we provide options to the President to deal with North Korea.”

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TRUMP ADDRESSES THE UN: FULL TEXT of president’s speech to the UN General Assembly

President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time in his young presidency on Tuesday. In his speech, the president focused on the ongoing nuclear threat posed by North Korea, on the dangers the Iran nuclear deal, and on his vow to put America first.

Full transcript below:

“Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates, welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city as a representative of the American people to address the people of the world. As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8. The stock market is at an all-time high, a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth, the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time, and it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.

Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today, but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed. We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve. But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terror but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances, that prevented conflict and tilted the word toward freedom since World War II. International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, threaten our borders and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens. To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair. We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars, to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity. It was in the same period exactly 70 years ago that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those these beautiful pillars, they are pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity. The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As president, Truman said in his message to congress at that time, our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.

The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members. To overcome the perils of the present, and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world. We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties, to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.

This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect. Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God. In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.

This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution, the oldest constitution still in use in the world today. This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law. The greatest in the united States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are “We the people.” Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country and of our great history.

In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens, to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first.

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition. But making a better life for our people also requires us to with work together in close harmony and unity, to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else, but in fulfilling our obligations to our nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interests to seek the future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all. For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.

We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideologies. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goal, interests, and values. That realism forces us to confront the question facing every leader and nation in this room, it is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face, or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow.

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.

And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threatens us with chaos, turmoil, and terror. The score of our planet today is small regimes that violate every principle that the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans. And for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America, only to die a few days later.

We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother, using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country, to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies. If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. 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.

No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. 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. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more.

It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. We face this decision not only in North Korea; it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people. Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian live, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.

This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East. We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance, and in Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and, indeed, to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists’ safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nation. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries whose support and fi — who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people. Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. We seek the deescalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of the United Nations’ agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict. The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process. For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.

Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach. For decades the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.

We have learned that over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries. For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms. For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their home. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflict in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief, in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief, the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Health Security Agenda, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, and the Women Entrepreneur’s Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — we also thank the secretary general for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble end have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it. Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell, but the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems. The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.

In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own region. That is why in the Western Hemisphere the United States has stood against the corrupt, destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.

My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms. We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation — prosperous nation, by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives, to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal — that goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people. The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors. I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, including their prosperity. In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of goodwill, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules, and our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government, the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today. If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the independent strength of its members. If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substantive for strong, sovereign, and independent nations, nations that are rooted in the histories and invested in their destiny, nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer, and most important of all, nations that are home to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain. Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, our minds, and our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

This is the ancient wish of every people and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul. So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world. We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all. Thank you, God bless you, God bless the nations of the world, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.”

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TRUMP ADDRESSES THE UN: If provoked, we will ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Addressing the U.N. General Assembly for the first time since his election, President Donald Trump stepped up his threats against North Korea and vowed to “totally destroy” the communist country should leader Kim Jung-Un continue to provoke the United States.

“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump told the 193-member panel as he detailed the acts of the “depraved” North Korean regime.

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission,” he said of Kim Jung-Un, citing North Korea’s most recent missile launch. “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.”

While citing the United States’ military capabilities to take North Korea “out”, Trump called upon the UN panel to aid him in finding a more diplomatic solution to the problem.

“We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump said.”As president of the United States, I will always put America first.” Calling North Korea a threat to democracies around the world, President Trump called on other world leaders to do the same.

“It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior. We face this decision not only in North Korea; it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime, one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

“Put your countries first,” he said.

In addition to addressing the ongoing issue with North Korea, Trump also took advantage of the opportunity before the world council to condemn his predecessor’s deal with Iran.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me,” said Trump.

“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. Above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors. The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers,” he continued.

“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the people will face a choice,” the president challenged. “Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous once again? The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its finance, and in Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamic extremism that inspires them.”

A spokesperson for North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. President Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York

President of the European Commission: ‘Swift and decisive reaction’ necessary over latest North Korean nuclear test

BRUSSELS, FRANCE — European Commission president Donald Tusk called for “swift and decisive” reaction to the latest nuclear tests carried out this weekend by North Korea.
 
In a statement on Sunday, Tusk said the EU is calling on the U.N. Security Council “to adopt further U.N. sanctions and show stronger resolve to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” adding, “The stakes are getting too high.”
 
Tusk said North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a verifiable and irreversible manner and it must cease all related activities at once in order to avoid a military response.
 
Response has also been coming in throughout the day from political leaders in the U.S. who were quick to condemn the latest round of tests, which based on the tremors that followed the test, had an explosive yield of approximately 120 kilotons. By comparison, the nuclear bomb dropped at Hiroshima’s had 15 kilotons.
 
“Well, what we have been doing over the years has certainly not slowed the advance of their nuclear program, but I don’t think that harsh rhetoric does either,” Jeff Flake, (R)- Arizona, said on Sunday. ” I think that they’re moving. Certainly, sanctions are — are not, you know, arresting that development either. So just about nothing we have done so far has helped slow it down. They seem intent on moving forward. Obviously, we hope that China exercises its leverage. They have considerably more leverage than we do. But I think, given where they are, we see the limits of economic sanctions obviously on North Korea.”
 
Ben Sasse, (R) – Nebraska, echoed Flake’s comments and said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “must be confronted”.
 
“If North Korea has in fact successfully tested a nuclear warhead that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, Kim Jong-un is clearly threatening the American people,” Sasse said on Sunday. “He must be confronted. The United States, our allies and partners, and those who are still enabling Pyongyang must confront and change Kim Jong-un’s calculus of terror. Diplomatically if we can. Militarily if we must.”
 
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