Donald Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in a damning address at the United Nations.
The US President slammed its “twisted dictator” Kim Jong Un, adding: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime”.
Loud murmurs filled the green-marbled UN General Assembly hall in New York when Trump issued his sternest warning yet to the secretive state.
It comes after the regime provoked the West with ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.
Trump’s threat came in an aggressive 40-minute speech that also lashed out at the regimes of Iran and Venezuela.
He urged UN states to work together to isolate the Kim government and slammed China for trading with its neighbour.
Trump branded North Korea “depraved”, adding: “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 nuclear 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 [country], 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 US 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 his regime.
“The US is ready, willing and able. But hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the UN is all about. That’s what the UN is for. Let’s see how they do.”
The North Korean ambassador was pictured leaving his seat in the assembly hall before Trump began speaking.
A junior North Korean diplomat remained in the delegation’s front-row seat for Trump’s speech.
Trump began his speech by declaring he would turn away from American’s history of intervention abroad.
“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather let it shine as an example for everyone to watch,” he said in his first address to the UN General Assembly.
But he warned the world must not “slide down the path of complacency”, declaring: “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.”
Trump said “the Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.”
And he slammed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“Frankly that deal is an embarrassment to the US and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” he said.
He called Iran an “economically depleted rogue state” that exports violence and lets its oil profits fund Hezbollah.
And he said UN member states cannot allow Islamic terrorism to “tear up our nation and indeed to tear up the entire world.”
Trump, who entered the White House eight months ago, told world leaders at the 193-member global body that the United States does not seek to impose its will on other nations and will respect other countries’ sovereignty.
“I will defend America’s interests above all else,” he said.
“But in fulfilling our obligations to other nations we also realize it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.”
Turning to Venezuela, Trump said “we cannot stand by and watch” adding: “The socialist dictatorship of [President] Maduro has inflicted terrible suffering.”
Pausing afterwards for effect the billionaire declared: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”
Reading carefully from a script, Trump also said the US military would soon be the strongest it has ever been.
And he backed a policy of helping refugees in their home regions rather than allowing them into the US.
He said: “For the cost of resettling one refugee in the US we can assist more than 10 in their home region.”