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France's Macron at UN defends Iran, climate deals
By Laurence BENHAMOU
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 19, 2017


Trump issues stark threats to North Korea and Iran at UN
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 19, 2017 - President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that the United States is ready to "totally destroy" North Korea and vowed to confront Iran's "murderous regime" over its weapons program.

In his first address to leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump warned North Korea not to pursue its nuclear missile program in his starkest language yet, deriding its young leader Kim Jong-Un with the nickname "Rocket Man" and threatening to end his country.

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

"Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime," he said. "The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary."

As to Iran, Trump appeared to pave the way towards tearing up the nuclear deal signed in 2015 between six world powers and Iran.

Trump said the accord had failed to rein in the regime's subversive role in Middle East conflicts, and sent a clear signal that he intends to declare Tehran in breach of the deal when he reports to Congress next month.

"We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program," Trump told the assembly.

"Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it," he said.

"Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction."

Many of the assembly's members, including US allies and Iran deal signatories France and Britain, favor retaining the accord -- under which Iran surrendered much of its enriched nuclear fuel and exposed its nuclear sites to international monitors.

But some of Trump's closest advisors fear the agreement leaves Iran too close to the threshold of being able to quickly develop a nuclear weapon when restrictive clauses in the deal begin to expire in 2025.

French President Emmanuel Macron stood firm Tuesday that landmark agreements on Iran and climate change would not change as he gently nudged Donald Trump to return to the fold.

Macron, like the US president, was appearing for the first time at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders, but struck a different tone.

Trump devoted much of his own address at the General Assembly denouncing Iran, calling the seven-nation agreement on Tehran's nuclear program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama an "embarrassment to the United States."

But Macron said that the 2015 deal -- reached between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- was a "solid, robust agreement that verifies that Iran will not build a nuclear weapon."

"To reject it now without proposing anything else would be a grave error, and not respecting it would be irresponsible," Macron told the assembly.

He acknowledged concerns that the agreement does not cover activities after 2025 or touch on other Western and regional concerns about Iran such as its ballistic missile program.

He called for diplomacy to address the issues, saying: "Let's be stricter, but let's not unravel agreements that have already brought security."

UN inspectors say that Iran is complying with the agreement including its restrictions on uranium enrichment.

But US law requires the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance and Trump has signalled he will either not do it when the next deadline arises in mid-October, or will pass the decision to Congress where criticism of Iran is high.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a forceful critic of the deal, but inside the negotiations France had been seen as pressing hard on Iran.

- No renegotiation of climate accord -

Trump triggered a global outcry in June when he announced that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord, making the world's largest economy and second largest carbon emitter the only outlier alongside war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, which wanted a stronger deal.

Macron said "the door will be open" for the United States to enter the agreement reached in the French capital but vowed: "This agreement will not be renegotiated."

With scientists likening worsening storms and droughts to climate change, Macron said that the effects of rising temperatures were inescapable.

"Unraveling this accord would be to destroy a pact between nations and generations," he said, drawing applause from the assembly.

Under the accord signed by 195 nations, each government sets its own plan to curb carbon emissions and meet a global goal of keeping the rise in temperatures this century within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

"I respect the decision of the United States," said Macron. "The door will always be open to them. But we will continue, with all of the governments, local administrations, cities, businesses, NGOs and citizens of the world to implement the Paris agreement."

Trump did not mention the climate change agreement in his address.

In contrast to Trump's "America First" credo, Macron embraced multilateralism and expounded on the crucial role of the United Nations as a global body.

"Multilateralism is the most efficient way to confront global challenges," he said, adding that it guarantees rule of law and protects citizens from "the law of the strongest."

SUPERPOWERS
Turkish military starts drill near Iraqi border
Ankara (AFP) Sept 18, 2017
Turkey launched a military drill with tanks close to the Iraqi border on Monday, the army said, a week before Iraq's Kurdish region is set to hold an independence referendum. Despite opposition from Turkey, Iran and the United States, the Kurdistan Regional Government's leaders have said they will hold the non-binding independence vote on September 25. Ankara has previously warned agains ... read more

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