High stakes as Trump looks to make UN debut

High stakes as Trump looks to make UN debut
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President Trump will face high stakes when he makes his debut at the United Nations on Tuesday, where he will be charged with addressing a global body that he once derided as weak and incompetent. 

Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyUK: Ex-spy’s poisoning ‘leads inexorably to the Kremlin’ Russia is already warmed up for a massive attack on US energy grid The Memo: Trump takes on critics with Russia moves MORE, the ambassador to the U.N., previewed the president's upcoming speech on Friday, casting it as an opportunity for Trump to project strength by praising the U.S.'s allies and admonishing its foes.

“I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with [the] U.S. being very strong, in the end,” she told reporters at a White House press briefing.

Of particular focus for Trump when he takes the podium in New York will be North Korea's weapons development, which has accelerated in recent months and put the world on high alert.

In a stunning development earlier this month, Pyongyang detonated what it said was a hydrogen bomb. If that claim is true, it would represent a major milestone for the nation's nuclear weapons program. 

Trump himself warned last month that he would unleash "fire and fury" on the North if it continues to threaten the U.S. And the president and other administration officials have repeatedly insisted that they are considering military options for dealing with Pyongyang.

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster reaffirmed on Friday that the U.S. does, in fact, have a military option in place, though he noted that it was not the Trump administration's preferred option.

Still, Trump's comments on the boiling tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are sure to be closely watched by anxious world leaders at the U.N.

McMaster also said Friday that Iran would be a major focus of the president's address, with Trump expected to call out the country's "destabilizing behavior, including its violation of the sovereignty of nations across the Middle East."

But whether Trump will decline to re-certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal remains a point of intense interest for the U.N.

Trump has repeatedly derided the agreement as "one of the worst deals" the U.S. has ever made, and the president has for months been expected to not certify Iran's compliance — a move that could lead to eventual deterioration of the deal.

Despite those expectations, Trump has certified twice since taking office that Iran is complying with the agreement. He must once again decide whether to re-certify the country by Oct. 15.

Trump is also set to hold a spate of meetings with world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

He will also meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-In about North Korea's rapidly advancing weapons program.  

While Trump will meet with several foreign leaders during his trip to New York, a few will be missing from the gathering. Russian President Vladimir Putin will skip the General Assembly meeting, as will Chinese President Xi Jinping — both of whom have urged a de-escalation of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. 

The U.S. has been at loggerheads with Russia in recent months, particularly due to the ongoing investigations into the Kremlin's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. The two sides have engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat over the past several weeks that has fueled tensions between the countries.