US President Donald Trump addressed the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in a headline-grabbing and theatrical speech in which he pushed his “America First” agenda and threatened North Korea. His remarks are just the latest in a series of memorable moments from the annual geopolitical gathering.
Khrushchev’s shoe-banging moment
In 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev waved and banged his shoe on his desk after taking exception to a statement by Lorenzo Sumulong, a member of the Philippines’ delegation. According to a New York Times dispatch from the incident, Sumulong said that the Eastern Europeans had been “deprived of political and civil rights” and “swallowed up by the Soviet Union.” Insulted by this claim, Khrushchev reportedly “pulled off his right shoe, stood up, and brandished the shoe at the Philippine delegation” before banging it on the desk. It was one of several outbursts during that year’s session, according to the Times.
Gadhafi rips the charter
During his UNGA debut in 2009, then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi delivered a rambling, 96-minute long address to the assembly. After being introduced as “king of kings,” Gadhafi launched into remarks that addressed everything from the UN Security Council to the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy to a one-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians he dubbed “Isratine.” At one point during his speech, Gadhafi appears to rip part of a page in the UN charter in a symbolic show of defiance.
Castro’s hours-long address
Although 96 minutes outranked the typical length of UNGA speeches, it paled in comparison to the more than four-hour address by Cuba’s Fidel Castro. His 1960 speech ran 269 minutes, according to the UN, and blasted American “aggression” and “imperialism.” The speech prompted the US to submit a “fact sheet” to the UN Secretary General that aimed to discredit Castro’s claims.
Ahmadinejad’s attacks on the West
In both his 2010 and 2011 speeches, then-Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s antagonistic speeches prompted walkouts by delegates from Western countries. In 2010, he claimed that the US had helped orchestrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks, adding that the attacks were aimed at reversing “the declining American economy and its scripts on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime.” In 2011, Ahmadinejad accused Europe of using the Holocaust as an excuse to support Israel and he said that the US killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden instead of investigating “hidden elements involved in September 11.”
Chavez’s “devilish” insults against Bush
In 2006, Hugo Chavez, then the leader of Venezuela, took to the podium the day after then-President George W. Bush addressed the assembly. Chavez proceeded to repeatedly refer to the US leader as “the devil” and rail against Bush for “talking as if he owned the world.”
“Yesterday, the devil came here, right here,” he said, making the sign of the cross. “And it smells of sulfur still today.”
Arafat’s “olive branch” or “gun”
Yasser Arafat, the former leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), addressed the UN General Assembly in 1974, to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state that would welcome Muslim, Christians and Jews, according to a New York Times article from the time. Toward the end of his speech, Arafat issued what some saw as a threat of increased guerrilla violence if such a state was not created.
“I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun,” he said. “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hands.”
Netanyahu’s red line
In 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the UN to draw “a clear red line” to stop Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. During his speech, Netanyahu revealed a chart with a cartoon bomb sectioned off into various parts.
“A red line should be drawn here,” he said, marking one towards the top of the illustration, “before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.”
Obama and Rouhani’s call
Days after speaking to the general assembly about the need to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapons program, then-President Barack Obama spoke by phone to Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani. Their 2013 conversation was the first direct conversation between leaders in Washington and Tehran in more than three decades. The call, which was described as “a constructive conversation” by then National Security Adviser Susan Rice, bolstered optimism about the possibility of an Iran nuclear deal.
Trump blasts “rocket man”
Trump took aim at North Korea and Iran in a wide-ranging 40-minute address to the UN. He threatened that the US would “totally destroy North Korea” if necessary. Referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the newly coined nickname Trump gave him, Trump warned, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
He also slammed Iran as a “reckless regime” that masks “a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of democracy,” and he decried conflicts around the world, describing some regions as “going to hell.”
CNN’s Richard Roth, Elise Labott, Jim Sciutto, Jason Hanna, Michael Martinez, Chelsea Carter and Michelle Kosinski contributed to this report.