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
More from CNAS
CommentaryTrump Has Made Sanctions a Path to Strikes
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s political and military influence in the Middle East, and the Irani...
By Elizabeth Rosenberg & Neil Bhatiya
CommentaryCongress has to figure out whether Trump's four embassy claim is real
The targeted killing of Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, carried with it significant potential to serve as a catalyst for a br...
By Carrie Cordero
CommentaryWhy did the Pentagon ever give Trump the option of killing Soleimani?
Sending the U.S. military to use force is among the most consequential decisions presidents can make. Matters may get out of control even with the most careful and deliberate ...
By Alice Hunt Friend, Mara Karlin & Loren DeJonge Schulman
PodcastHow Will Iran Punch Back?
Last week, President Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has promised rev...
By Ilan Goldenberg