WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump has described China and Russia as rivals that must be confronted with "unmatched power," and has called on Congress to fix "fundamental flaws" in the landmark nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.
Trump made the remarks on January 30 in his first State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
The speech dwelt overwhelmingly on domestic U.S. issues, like rebuilding the country's crumbling infrastructure, an opioid epidemic ravaging some regions, and reforming immigration policies.
But Trump also took time to focus on major foreign-policy challenges faced by the United States.
He referred to "rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values."
"In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense," he said.
"For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military," he said, referring to a budget deal several years ago that sought to rein in defense spending.
He also referenced recent protests against Iran's ruling Islamic clerics that have swept that country.
"When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent," he said. "America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom."
He called on Congress to help pass legislation to fix the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted crippling Western economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump and many Republicans have routinely criticized the deal, which was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
But Trump has stopped short of tearing up the deal altogether, a move some analysts feared could lead Iran to move more quickly to develop a nuclear weapon -- something Tehran says it has not done and does not plan to do.
"I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal," Trump said.
Trump also said North Korea's "reckless pursuit" of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten the United States.
He said the United States was waging a campaign of "maximum pressure" against North Korea and its nuclear weapons ambitions, and he called Pyongyang a "cruel dictatorship."
He also announced that he had signed an executive order to keep the high-security U.S. military detention center open at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield -- including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi," Trump said.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was captured in Iraq by U.S. forces and held in a prison near Baghdad. In 2004, however, he was handed over to Iraqi authorities, who released him some time later.
"I just signed an order directing [Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay," Trump said.