[Newsmaker] Trump skips NK for first time in UN speech

By Ahn Sung-mi
  • Published : Sept 23, 2020 - 15:09
  • Updated : Sept 24, 2020 - 09:35

US President Donald Trump delivers a prerecorded address at the 75th General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters on Tuesday,in New York City. (AP-Yonhap)

US President Donald Trump made no mention of North Korea in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (US time), for the first time in any of his four UN speeches since taking office. 

In a prerecorded address from the White House, Trump focused his seven-minute speech on attacking China for “unleashing” COVID-19 onto the world and touched on various foreign policy issues, but did not say a word about Pyongyang. 

It was the first time Trump has not mentioned North Korea in a UN speech since he began his term in 2017. Trump has often used the UN stage to warn or praise North Korea, depending on Washington’s relations with Pyongyang and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. 

In 2017 Trump warned that the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to defend itself and its allies, adding that his country was “ready, willing and able” to take military action against Pyongyang, amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the North’s sixth and last nuclear test earlier that month. Trump also called the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, “Rocket Man.” 

The next year, Trump praised his own diplomatic efforts in engaging with Pyongyang and expressed optimism about progress on denuclearization, following the historic Singapore summit between the US and North Korea earlier in June. 

Last year’s speech arrived as the denuclearization efforts faced a stalemate following the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi earlier that year. But he did mention the communist nation, though briefly, saying Pyongyang “must denuclearize.”

Despite Trump not talking about North Korea at the multilateral body this year, Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, hailed the US president for his engagement efforts with North Korea. 

“Americans held captive in North Korea have come home. There have been no nuclear tests, no long-range missile tests, a dramatic lowering of the diplomatic temperature in the region and an opening for a lasting agreement that brings peace to the peninsula,” she said while introducing Trump ahead of his speech. 

Meanwhile, it was French President Emmanuel Macron who urged North Korea to commit to “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization at the UN on Tuesday, stressing that France has supported the US efforts to negotiate with Pyongyang. 

“What we are looking for now is specific gestures of commitment and engagement by North Korea. It needs to comply with the Security Council resolutions quickly and in good faith to commit to a denuclearization process which is complete, verifiable and irreversible,” Macron said in a prerecorded video address. “It’s the only way to achieve a political solution (for) lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

By Ahn Sung-mi (

Related Stories