President Trump stormed the international stage Monday, telling global leaders at the United Nations to back a reform agreement, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then preparing for his first address to the U.N. General Assembly , where he is expected to focus on North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.
The whirlwind dose of diplomacy featured Trump’s past criticism of U.N. waste and mismanagement, tempered with his hope that a reform deal backed by more than 100 nations can get the world body back to the “noble goals” it was founded upon.
“If we work together and champion reform, the U.N. will emerge stronger,” Trump said at U.N. headquarters in New York. “We affirm our commitment to the United Nations reform, and reform is what we’re talking about.”
Trump was expected to talk with Netanyahu about the Iran nuclear deal and U.S. efforts to broker an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement. Netanyahu, who has warned for decades about neighboring Iran being a nuclear threat to the entire Middle East, is expected to urge Trump to exit the July 2015 international accord, in which Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of billions in economic sanctions.
Trump, during his winning 2016 presidential campaign, vowed to exit the deal amid concerns that Iran was not complying, saying on the stump he would “rip it up.”
However, as president Trump has so far gone along with the deal, purportedly at the urging of his top military advisers. Last month, Trump passed on the opportunity to re-impose Iran sanctions that were lifted as part of the agreement.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday telegraphed that the agreement will be a major topic for Trump at the U.N. and that allowing Iran to continue to violate the agreement is unacceptable.
“We can't be giving this regime cover to develop a nuclear capability,” McMaster told “Fox News Sunday.” “We know Iran has already violated parts of the agreement. … So, there has to be much more rigorous enforcement of the deal. And we have to recognize the fundamental flaws in this deal.”