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Bark and bite: Here’s how Trump followed up on threats from his last UN speech

Click to play video: 'Donald Trump to UN General Assembly: I will always put America First' Donald Trump to UN General Assembly: I will always put America First
WATCH ABOVE: In his first address before the United Nations, U.S. President Donald Trump said that as president, he will "always put America first," and that other nations should do the same for themselves – Sep 19, 2017

If U.S. President Donald Trump’s second speech at the United Nations is anything like his first, it will telegraph some of the biggest American foreign policy decisions that might play out in the year ahead.

Trump will address the UN General Assembly in a speech on Tuesday, amid a four-day gathering of the international body that kicked off on Monday.

READ MORE: Donald Trump to push ‘America First’ agenda at UN General Assembly speech

Trump set up many of his most dramatic geopolitical moves in his 2017 address to the UN General Assembly, such as his focus on denuclearizing North Korea, his intent to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and his determination to hammer U.S. trade partners over existing deals.

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He also made it clear that he was going to take an “America first” stance with global politics, and encouraged other nations to do the same with their own interests.

Here’s how Trump acted on many of his most significant statements to the UN in 2017.

North Korea

Trump said North Korea was his top foreign-policy priority last year in his speech to the UN. He struck a much more bombastic tone at the time than the one he’s adopted in recent months, following his summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in June.

Last year, Trump described North Korea as a “depraved regime” and a “band of criminals” led by a “Rocket Man” — his favourite insult for Kim — who was on a “suicide mission” for himself and his country. Trump also threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies.

WATCH BELOW: Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’

Click to play video: 'President Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea”' President Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea”
President Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea” – Sep 19, 2017
“The United States is ready, willing and able [to defend itself], but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for,” he said. “Let’s see how they do.”
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North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, dismissed Trump’s words as empty threats after last year’s speech.

“If he was thinking he could scare us with the sound of a dog barking, that’s really a dog dream,” he told reporters at the time.

The situation has changed dramatically over the last year, at least in terms of rhetoric. Trump and Kim smiled and waved for the cameras at a historic summit in Singapore on June 12, and agreed to work toward nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. Trump has stopped calling Kim “Little Rocket Man,” and instead has heaped praise on the dictator ever since they met.

WATCH BELOW: Trump and Kim sign agreement promising ‘major change’

Click to play video: 'Trump-Kim summit: ‘The world will see a major change’ – Kim, Trump sign documents' Trump-Kim summit: ‘The world will see a major change’ – Kim, Trump sign documents
Trump-Kim summit: ‘The world will see a major change’ – Kim, Trump sign documents – Jun 12, 2018

“It’s going to be a lot different than it was in the past,” Trump said after the summit. He added that he has a “special bond” with Kim, whom he described as a “very talented man.”

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Trump has repeatedly expressed his confidence in Kim, but North Korea has not shown significant progress toward disarmament since the meeting. Kim has not provided the U.S. with a full inventory of his weapons, and he has not agreed to a concrete timeline for disarmament.

WATCH BELOW: Trump administration continues to insist it’s made ‘tremendous’ progress with North Korea

Click to play video: 'Trump admin continues to insist that progress with North Korea ‘tremendous’' Trump admin continues to insist that progress with North Korea ‘tremendous’
Trump admin continues to insist that progress with North Korea ‘tremendous’ – Sep 20, 2018

Trump is expected to put pressure on North Korea again on Tuesday. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll use the “Rocket Man” moniker again in this speech.

“It was a different world,” Trump said on Monday, when asked about his use of the nickname. “That was a dangerous time. This is one year later — a much different time.”

“We have our eyes wide open,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Pompeo has been a central figure in peace talks with North Korea, after taking over the post from the fired Rex Tillerson in April.

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“There is a long ways to go to get Chairman Kim to live up to the commitment that he made to President Trump and, indeed, to the demands of the world in the UN Security Council resolutions to get him to denuclearize,” Pompeo said.

“Trump will likely continue his practice of hailing even insignificant North Korea steps as major advances,” Evans Revere, a former U.S. negotiator with North Korea, told Reuters.

Revere, who served under George W. Bush, says North Korea appears to have done nothing more than repackage past broken promises.

Iran

Trump all but vowed to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in his speech to the UN last year. He blasted Iran’s leaders as a “corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” and accused it of funding violence and terrorism in the Middle East.

WATCH BELOW: Trump tears into Iran at the UN

Click to play video: 'President Trump tears into Iran during speech before the UN' President Trump tears into Iran during speech before the UN
President Trump tears into Iran during speech before the UN – Sep 19, 2017

“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,” he said.

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

Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May, when he claimed without evidence that Iran had violated the terms of the deal. Trump announced a new series of sanctions against Iran, and pressured other signatory countries to withdraw or face economic sanctions of their own.

WATCH BELOW: Trump announces U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

Click to play video: 'President Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal' President Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal
President Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal – May 9, 2018

Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China said in July that they would continue to uphold their end of the Iran deal, so long as Iran sticks to the agreement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also committed to remaining in the deal if his country’s interests are preserved.

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Trade battles

Trump did not mention tariffs in his 2017 speech, but he did strike a strong nationalistic tone in discussing trade with other nations.

“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,” Trump said.

“We seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal,” he said. He also claimed that other countries had “gamed the system and broke the rules,” and vowed to put American interests above those of the rest of the world.

READ MORE: Here’s why the U.S. is slapping China with tariffs and who stands to lose

In the 12 months since that first speech, Trump has jolted the geopolitical status quo by scrapping trade deals with Western allies, slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and starting a trade war with China.

He’s also pressured Canada to join a recently-announced U.S.-Mexico trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

UN funding

Trump complained in his last speech that the United States was paying too much to support the UN. The U.S. provides 22 per cent of the organization’s budget, and hosts the UN headquarters in New York City.

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“The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if [the UN] could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, these investments would easily be well worth it,” Trump said last year.

“We believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.”

WATCH BELOW: Trump complains of ‘unfair cost burden’ at the UN

Click to play video: 'Donald Trump complains of ‘unfair cost burden’ at speech before UN' Donald Trump complains of ‘unfair cost burden’ at speech before UN
Donald Trump complains of ‘unfair cost burden’ at speech before UN – Sep 19, 2017

Trump did not officially slash the U.S. budget for the UN, but his administration still has not paid its share of the 2017-2018 budget, according to UN data from Sept. 20.

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The Trump administration cut funding last month for a UN program to help Palestinian refugees, and slashed $2 million in funding for the UN Counterterrorism Office in July.

READ MORE: U.S. pulls out of UN human rights council, calls it an organization ‘not worthy of its name’

The U.S. also withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in June, then criticized the body a week later for publishing a report on poverty in America.

Trump hinted that he will criticize the UN in a video posted online Saturday, in which he said the UN hasn’t lived up to its potential.

“It’s always been surprising to me that more things aren’t resolved,” he said. “You have all of these countries getting together in one location, but it doesn’t seem to get there.”

— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press

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