23 Apr 2017

North Korea accuses Australia of 'blindly toeing US line'

9:47 am on 23 April 2017

North Korea has issued a stern message to Australia, accusing the Government of "blindly toeing the US line" and warning of a possible nuclear strike if it persists.

North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: supplied

The comments came after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier this week said on the ABC's AM program that North Korea's nuclear weapons program posed a "serious threat" to Australia unless it was stopped by the international community.

A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused Australia of "spouting a string of rubbish" about the isolated regime, and warned against following the US.

"The present Government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line," the spokesman said.

"If Australia persists in following the US' moves to isolate and stifle North Korea … this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of North Korea."

Troops and military hardware were paraded in Pyongyang.

Troops and military hardware paraded in Pyongyang. Photo: AFP

The North Korean Foreign Ministry also directly addressed Ms Bishop's interview, warning she had "better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US".

"What she uttered can never be pardoned," the spokesman said.

"It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such a government. But if she is the foreign minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation."

The comments also coincided with a visit to Australia by US Vice-President Mike Pence, who continued to condemn Pyongyang's weapons program at a time of heightened tension between the regions.

Mr Pence also thanked Australia for calling on China to exert greater economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

"As President Trump made clear a few days ago, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will," he said, following a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Mr Prime Minister, know that President Trump and I are truly grateful to you for calling on China even this week to play an even more active and constructive role in addressing the North Korean threat."

Mike Pence (second right) visits Observation Post Ouellette with his daughters near the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.

Mike Pence (second right) visits Observation Post Ouellette with his daughters near the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone. Photo: AFP

Mr Pence would not rule out the use of military force in North Korea, repeating "all options are on the table", but stressed the US was focused on diplomacy at this stage.

Mr Turnbull meanwhile said it was "self-evident" China had the capacity to bring more pressure to bear on North Korea.

But he brushed off questions about whether Australia would join any military strike on the regime in the future.

"At this stage, the support we are providing is at the level of diplomacy [and] is of critical importance," Mr Turnbull said.

"We are quietly confident, I would say, that China will step up to this challenge and responsibility.

"China has a leverage, an ability to influence North Korea that far exceeds any others.

"As I said earlier this week, the eyes of the world are on Beijing. We seek leadership from China to join the leadership shown by the US and Japan and Australia and other nations around the world committed to peace."


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