U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday denounced North Korea's nuclear adventurism and "cruel dictatorship," warning it not to "underestimate" U.S. strength.
In his speech to South Korea's National Assembly, Trump also reiterated his mantra of "peace through strength" and called on China, Russia and the world to join efforts to isolate the "brutal regime."
"The regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation."
"This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Today I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us," he added.
|U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 8, 2017. (Yonhap)|
The speech, the first by a U.S. leader to the Korean parliament in 24 years, was delivered one day after he held a summit with President Moon Jae-in.
In a news conference after the summit, he toned down his rhetoric toward the North, calling for it to "come to the table" and "make a deal."
In his parliamentary speech, he also apparently held out the prospect of engagement with the North, though on strict conditions.
"We will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization," he said.
Trump arrived here Tuesday for a two-day state visit. He is on his first Asia trip, which also includes visits to Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, with the North's nuclear threats atop his policy agenda.
The Republican president spent much of his speech to highlight the brutality and cruelty of the regime. He depicted it as a "hell no person deserves," saying the world has watched the "results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history."
"Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them, and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve," he said.
"North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior. And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered," he added. "One woman's baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guard said it did not deserve to live because it was impure. So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?"
Criticizing the North's nuclear ambitions, he stressed it is based on the "deluded hope" that it could blackmail its way to its "ultimate objective" with no clear elaboration.
"That objective, we are not going to let it have. We are not going to let it have. All of Korea is under that spell divided in half. South Korea will never allow what's going on in North Korea to continue to happen," he said.
He also used the speech to call for the international community to join efforts towards the North's denuclearization.
"The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation. All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea, to deny it and any form, any form of it," he said.
"We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology."
He went on to say, "It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together, because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become."
Drawing a sharp contrast between the two Koreas, he used much of the speech to hail the achievements of South Korea.
The Republican president was accompanied by top aides, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelly and senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Some 550 people attended the speech, including South Korean lawmakers, foreign diplomats and those invited by the Washington government.
Kim Su-a firstname.lastname@example.org