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5 things you need to know about Trump's UN speech


Updated September 19, 2017 10:51 AM EDT

President Trump on Tuesday characterized terrorism as one of the biggest threats to civilization during his first speech before the United Nations' General Assembly.

"Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet," he said in New York City. "To put it simply, we meet at a time of great promise and immense peril."

"It is entirely up to us to lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty."

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Trump then turned his focus to North Korea, warning it to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons and threatening the global community.

"The United States has great patience and strength, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will totally destroy North Korea," he said.

"'Rocket man' is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime," Trump added of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary."

"No one has shown more contempt for other nations and the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime of North Korea. It is an outrage that some nations would trade with such a regime."

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Trump also took aim at Iran, calling the global deal regarding its nuclear weapons program "an embarrassment to the United States."

"The Iranian regime's support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of several of its neighbors to halt the funding of and fighting terrorism," he said. "Oppressive regimes can not endure forever. And the day will come when people will face a choice."

Trump, who has at times been a vocal critic of the U.N., additionally took some shots at the institution's effectiveness.

"Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but bureaucracy and process," he said. "For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with human rights violations sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council."

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Trump also claimed that the U.S. pays "far more than anybody realizes" in U.N. funding.

"The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but to be fair, it it could accomplish some of its stated goals, especially peace, that investment would be worth it."

Trump next took the focus of his speech closer to home, calling on the U.N.'s members to address the "crisis" of social unrest in Venezuela.

"The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented," he said.

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"From the Soviet Union to Venezuela to Cuba, wherever true socialism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation. America stands with every person to living under a brutal regime."

Trump directed his comments at each individual nation present, asking them to examine their own governments and cultures.

"The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children is a basic question," he said.

"Are we still patriots?" Trump asked. "Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and defend their futures?"

"The United States of America has been among the greatest forces of good in history. Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself."

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President Trump is no fan of the United Nations, but he told the organization on Monday that he wants to help reform it.

Trump claimed during his 2016 campaign that the UN was "not a friend of democracy" and "not a friend of freedom." His America First vision while in office has worried international diplomats within the U.N. and elsewhere. That said, the president took a more measured stance during his first address to the general assembly. Instead of denouncing the U.N., he claimed wants to help reform it.

"In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement," said Trump in his address. He made three main points on what the U.N. should do to help the organization improve.

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First, Trump argued that bureaucracy must be cut down. He claimed that on a regular budget, the U.N. has increased 140%, while staff levels have doubled since 2000. Second, Trump said the organization needs to regain the trust of the people it serves. The U.N. has been rocked by scandal in recent years, most notably rampant sexual abuse among its peacekeeping forces across the globe. In an effort to regain that trust, Trump argued the U.N. "must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle blowers and focus on results, rather than process."

Lastly, Trump reiterated the need for even even cost sharing among members, a talking point borrowed from his campaign.

"We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden," said Trump.

The U.S. accounts for approximately 22 percent of the UN budget, however, it has been late on paying dues in the past.

Trump appears to have an unlikely ally in his effort to reform the U.N.: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the head of the organization.

"Someone recently asked me what keeps me up at night and my answer was simple: bureaucracy, fragmented structures, byzantine procedures and endless red tape," said Guterres, speaking after Trump.

In an effort to address those problems, Guterres has come up with a 10-point plan. The proposal seems to have had some early success, as 128 members have signed on, with more to come, according to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. But in an organization as large and entrenched as the U.N., change could come slower than expected.

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