President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned that North Korea’s “reckless pursuit” of nuclear missile could threaten American cities, asserting that he will not “repeat the mistakes” of past administrations that got the US into “dangerous position”.
Trump, in his first State of the Union Address, said no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship of Kim Jong-un.
“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening,” he said, indicating that he will take preventive measure to stop North Korea from gaining a nuclear weapon.
In his speech, he highlighted the stories of two victims of North Korea to emphasise the “depraved character” of the North Korean regime.
“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies,” he said.
Trump shared the story of American student Otto Warmbier, who was held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and died at a hospital in the US last year, just days after he was released from captivity in a coma.
“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state,” Trump said.
“After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return,” he said.
Trump then pointed out his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, and his brother and sister, Austin and Greta, who were in the gallery.
“Incredible people. Your strength truly inspires us all,” Trump said. The parents received two standing ovations as they wept at Trump’s telling of their son’s story.
“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honour Otto’s memory with American resolve,” he said.
Trump also highlighted audience member Ji Seong-ho, who defected from North Korea to South Korea in 2006. Ji lost his left hand and foot after he passed out on train tracks from hunger. He was later tortured by the North Korean regime after he crossed the border into China to look for food.
“Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most — the truth,” he said.
“Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all. Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom,” said the president.
As Trump honoured Warmbier and Ji, he took a veiled swiped at his predecessors for failing to stop North Korea’s progress on its nuclear programme.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” Trump said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this very dangerous position.”