September 26, 2018

A Year After 'Rocket Man' Speech, Trump Returns To U.N. With Eyes On Iran

By Ilan Goldenberg

When President Trump delivers his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, one phrase is unlikely to show up: "rocket man."

A lot has changed since Trump used that derisive nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his address at the U.N. last year — remarks where he also said the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary.

Since those comments, tensions have eased between Trump and Kim, with the leaders now exchanging compliments after holding a historic face-to-face summit in June.

"Everybody interpreted his comments [last year] as the prelude to war. You could not have a more stark difference in tone," said Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Part of Trump's mission at the U.N. this year will be promoting his warmer ties with North Korea as a foreign policy success, while also calling on nations to keep up pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions.

Although temperatures have cooled, there is still a question of how far North Korea is willing to go on denuclearization. Trump canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's planned visit to North Korea in August, citing a "lack of progress" in dismantling the country's nuclear program.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called out Russia earlier this month for allegedly helping North Korea skirt the international sanctions, a charge that Russia denied. Trump has also argued on multiple occasions that China is easing up on its enforcement of sanctions, as a form of retribution against the United States over trade disputes.

Listen to this segment and more from NPR

  • Reports
    • November 21, 2019
    In Dire Straits?

    In a joint report from CNAS and Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, Ilan Goldenberg, Jessica Schwed, and Kaleigh Thomas assess what would happen to the...

    By Ilan Goldenberg, Kaleigh Thomas & Jessica Schwed

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • November 7, 2019
    Trump Needs to Reestablish Deterrence with Iran

    The attack attributed to Iran on Saudi Aramco oil facilities is the latest in a series of Iranian escalations—the May 14 and June 13 tanker attacks, the June 20 downing of a U...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Elisa Catalano Ewers

  • Video
    • October 27, 2019
    Nicholas Heras on Killing of ISIS Leader in U.S. Military Raid

    The Center for a New American Security’s Nicholas Heras talked about the killing of ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. military raid in Syria. Listen to th...

    By Nicholas Heras

  • Podcast
    • October 18, 2019
    Discussing Turkey’s Offensive Against the Kurds in Syria with Nick Heras

    The United States’ withdrawal and the Turkish military’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled northeast have completely changed the balance of power in Syria. Without America...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Nicholas Heras

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia