- REUTERS/Lee Jin-man/Pool
- In remarks to South Korea’s National Assembly on Wednesday, President Donald Trump warned North Korea “do not try us” and said underestimating the US would be a “fatal miscalculation.” Trump appeared to abandon his earlier talk of “fire and fury” and said he wanted to achieve “peace through strength.” He offered North Korea a pathway to discussions if it abandoned its nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump spoke directly to North Korea on Wednesday, warning “Do not underestimate us and do not try us” in remarks he gave before South Korea’s National Assembly.
“This is a very different administration than the US has had in the past,” Trump said, adding that interpreting the US’s “past restraint as weakness” would be a “fatal miscalculation.”
Trump, who is on a 13-day tour of Asia, arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and was headed to China after his speech Wednesday night. The 34-minute address lacked the type of “fire and fury” rhetoric he used over the summer and could be seen as evidence of a more peaceful approach to North Korea.
Trump said he wanted to achieve “peace through strength” and called on Russia and China to pressure North Korea more.
“We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement sanctions, downgrade diplomatic relations, and sever all ties of trade and technology,” he said. “The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become.”
“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation,” Trump added. “Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times.”
While Trump celebrated some of the military achievements of the US, including what he described as “defeating ISIS” and being in possession of “nuclear submarines,” a large portion of Trump’s speech was devoted to the modern history of the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s human-rights abuses.
The US president also praised South Korea’s economy while characterizing North Korea as “a hell that no person deserves” and saying it was “not the paradise” the country’s first leader, Kim Il Sung, envisioned.
Abandoning his previous assertion that “talking is not the answer,” Trump said he was offering North Korea “a path” to a “much better future” if it ends its aggression and ballistic-missile developments and abandons its nuclear weapons program.
There is little chance, however, that North Korea will agree to those terms.
Trump appeared to stay largely on script during the speech but mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s full name just once. This may have been a deliberate move by speechwriters to reduce the chances of improvisation, which led Trump to call Kim “Rocket Man” earlier this year.
Trump did not mention his attempt earlier in the day to visit the Korean Peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone. His surprise visit to the region had to be aborted because of bad weather.