Donald Trump calls Kim Jong-un a 'Rocket Man on a suicide mission' in UN speech

North Korea's UN Ambassador left the hall before Mr Trump spoke at the UN General Assembly

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 19 September 2017 16:33 BST
Trump says the US will "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary in UN speech

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song "Rocket Man" almost 50 years ago.

But the song, which tells of the melancholy and loneliness experienced by an astronaut “on such a timeless flight”, has been getting plenty of publicity in recent days courtesy of Donald Trump, who has chosen it as his nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

On Tuesday, in his address to the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump focused much of his attention on the East Asian nation, using language that represented a major departure from diplomatic convention.

During a bellicose speech, the US President threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it did not step aside from its nuclear weapons programme.

“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” Mr Trump said. He said of the US: “If it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Trump's attacks draw stern stares in the UN General Assembly

During the election campaign, Mr Trump make powerful use of nicknames of his opponents - names that appeared to stick in the minds of voters. He termed Marco Rubio “Little Marco”, Ted Cruz “Lying Ted” and Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary”. He said former governor Jeb Bush, who many believed would become the Republican candidate, had “low energy”.

Now, as North Korea steps up its testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear payload, Mr Trump has turned to Elton John for a nickname for the 33-year-old North Korean leader.

In the past two weeks, Mr Trump has posted several posts about “Rocket Man”, most recently just two weeks ago in the aftermath of new UN sanctions against North Korea.

“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad,” he wrote.

The single 'Rocket Man appeared on Elton John's 1972 album Honky Chateau
The single 'Rocket Man appeared on Elton John's 1972 album Honky Chateau (Wikipedia)

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During his first speech to the body, Mr Trump adopted a puglistic, nationalist approach.

"I will always put American first. Just like you, the leaders of your countries, should and always put your countries first. The U.S. will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies,” the Republican president said.

“But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal in which the United States gets nothing in return."

Not everyone was there to hear Mr Trump’s words. While the North Korean delegation was seated just yards from where he spoke, its Ambassador to the UN, Ja Song Nam, left the room shortly before the US President entered the room.

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