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At UN, Trump focuses on Iran, Syria

Donald Trump speaks at the UN, Sept. 19, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

Donald Trump speaks at the UN, Sept. 19, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

WASHINGTON — The number of times President Donald Trump mentioned Iran or its derivatives in his UN speech?

Twelve, and each time to emphasize its threat.

The number of times he mentioned the Palestinians or derivatives? Zero.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, paying Trump the rare leader-to-leader gesture of attending his speech and applauding throughout, was pleased.

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” Netanyahu tweeted immediately after the 40-minute address on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

“President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity.”

Trump came closer to pledging to kill the Iran nuclear deal reviled by the Israeli leader and did not even mention peace with the Palestinians, which Netanyahu does not believe has traction at this point.

“Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity and peace for themselves and for the world,” Trump said.

He said that during his trip to Saudi Arabia earlier this year he met with many Muslim heads of state who shared this vision.

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government.”

Trump’s emphasis on Syria  was the routing of the Islamist terrorist threat embodied there by the Islamic State, although he named other radical Islamic terror organizations, including Al-Qaida and Hezbollah, threatening the entire Middle East region.

Secondarily, Trump said he would intervene when what he called the “criminal” Assad regime uses chemical weapons.

What Trump did not say was whether he would seek the removal from Syria of Iran and Hezbollah, which launched a war against Israel in 2006 and appears to be building a missile arsenal ahead of another war. Trump did twice attack Hezbollah as a terrorist organization that threatens Israel.

We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for an eventual nuclear program,” Trump said of the 2015 agreement, which trades sanctions relief for rollbacks in Iran’s nuclear program. Calling the deal “one of the worst” he had ever encountered, the president said it was “an embarrassment to the US and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”

Trump has said there will be a “dramatic” adjustment to how the US treats the deal by next month, when according to US law, the US must recertify Iranian adherence to the deal.

The 2015 deal, negotiated by the Obama administration, trades sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program.

Critics of the deal, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu, say that the lifting of some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program starting within a decade pave its path to a nuclear weapon.

Defenders of the agreement say that other provisions written into the deal are sufficient to prevent Iran from getting a weapon.

Trump coupled Iran and North Korea as rogue regimes threatening stability worldwide. He also emphasized that the citizens of these regimes are its foremost victims.

Several times he singled out Iran for its backing of the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon and the threat posed by the group to Israel and its Muslim neighbors.

Trump spoke out against countries that support autocratic regimes. He thanked China and Russia for supporting the Sept. 11 UN Security Council resolution calling for new sanctions against North Korea, but said it was not enough. He posed a challenge to theUN to deal with these rogue states in order to ensure security for the world’s citizens.

Trump enumerated the hardship imposed on North Koreans by its government, including starvation of its populace and torturing and killing of dissidents.

He also mentioned Otto Warmbier, the Jewish college student who was arrested and tortured in North Korea, who died mere days after being returned to the US.

He criticized Iran harshly, saying the regime uses its funds to support terrorism instead of investing in the prosperity of its own population.

In not mentioning his administration’s efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, Trump departed from his predecessors. Saying an Israeli-Palestinian deal is critical to world peace is almost de rigeuer during the General Assembly, even for tiny far-flung nations that have no influence on the outcome.

I couldn’t agree more,” Netanyahu said from the same podium several hours later, with reference to the Iran deal.

He lavished praise on Trump. Referring to Trump’s visit earlier this year to the Western Wall, Netanyahu said, “When the president touched those ancient stones, he touched our hearts forever.”

Netanyahu also said “we will act to prevent Iran” from establishing a permanent base in Syria, developing weapons to be used against Israel from Lebanon and Syria, and establishing a terrorist front against Israel on the Lebanon border.”

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in peril,” he said.


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