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(LEAD) Trump claims he was handed a 'mess' in N. Korea

2017/10/09 04:07

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(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks on Iran in last 4 paras; ADDS to quotes)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump again blamed past administrations for handing him a "mess" in North Korea and the Middle East.

In an interview aired Saturday evening, he said the problem of North Korea's nuclear weapons program should have been handled 25 years ago, and the war in Iraq was one of the "truly big mistakes" in American history.

"For almost 30 years, through numerous administrations, if you look at President Clinton, paid billions of dollars, gave them billions more," Trump said on the Trinity Broadcasting Network's "Huckabee."

  

This AP photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump speaking to reporters at the White House in Washington on Oct. 7, 2017. (Yonhap) This AP photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump speaking to reporters at the White House in Washington on Oct. 7, 2017. (Yonhap)

In 1994, North Korea agreed to freeze and eventually dismantle its plutonium-based bomb program in return for economic rewards. But the deal collapsed in 2003 after the U.S. accused North Korea of running a secret uranium nuclear program.

"The day after the agreement was done, he was -- meaning his father, because it's the same thing over many years, same attitude. I think this one's the worst of the group -- but they started doing what they were doing," Trump said, referring first to then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and then his son and current leader Kim Jong-un.

"This should have been handled 25 years ago, it should have been handled 10 years ago. It should have been handled during the Obama administration," he added. "I was handed a mess -- not only there -- I was handed a mess in the Middle East. Just a total mess."

   Still, Trump credited himself with "getting them done" and touted his country's military.

"We have to have a very strong military," he said. "Maybe now, almost more than any other time, we need a great military."

   The president has often spoken of using military options against North Korea if necessary.

Last week, he described the current period as the "calm before the storm," without elaborating. And on Saturday, he insisted "only one thing will work" to solve the North Korean nuclear impasse.

Tensions have run high in the wake of North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches and sixth nuclear test in September.

Many experts and officials agree it is only a matter of time before Pyongyang develops a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of hitting the mainland U.S.

Trump accused Iran of supporting that effort.

"I believe they're funding North Korea. I believe they're trading with North Korea. I believe they're doing things with North Korea that is totally inappropriate," he said.

The president emphasized again that he is "unhappy" with Iran's attitude and the 2015 deal under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from U.S. and other world powers.

"Iran is a bad player and they will be taken care of as a bad player," he said, reinforcing expectations he will decertify the agreement this week, a step that could lead to its termination.

hague@yna.co.kr

(END)

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