North Korea warns Australia over ‘dangerous moves’

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop (right) and defence minister Marise Payne stand on the southern side of the military demarcation line between North and South Korea. The pair visited the border earlier this week. Photo: AFP

North Korea has criticised Australia for supporting America’s tough stance on Pyongyang and says if it continues to do so, a disaster will happen.

In a statement on the state-run news agency, North Korea accused Australia of “dangerous moves” by joining what it calls the frenzied political and military provocations of the US.

It said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had personally expressed her support for the United States’ stance to consider all options, including the use of force towards Pyongyang.

“Lately, Australia is showing dangerous moves of zealously joining the frenzied political and military provocations of the US against the DPRK,” the statement said.

“The Australian Foreign Minister personally expressed her support for the stand of the US to consider all options including the use of force towards the DPRK.

“And [Ms Bishop] turned up at Panmunjom on October 11 together with the Australian Defence Minister to condemn the DPRK during her visit to South Korea,” referring to Ms Bishop’s visit to the border between the two Koreas.

In its warning, the North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said Australia would not be able to avoid disaster if it continued to align itself with the US and South Korea.

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Ms Bishop last week said she had real concerns North Korea might launch another missile test to coincide with a meeting of China’s Communist Party Congress.

Tensions rise amid missile tests

North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several flying over Japan.

On 3 September, North Korea successfully tested a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to state television.

It was the sixth nuclear test by Pyongyang since 2006, and South Korea estimated it was five to six times stronger than North Korea’s fifth test a year ago.

US President Donald Trump has said “only one thing will work” in dealing with nuclear-armed North Korea, arguing previous administrators had talked to Pyongyang without results.

Mr Trump has not made clear what the one thing is, but his comments seemed to be a further suggestion military action was on his mind.

He has said the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies from Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.

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The increasingly heated rhetoric between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is raising fears of a risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have massive repercussions.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed the US was in direct communication with Pyongyang, but Mr Trump said he told him not to waste his time trying to negotiate with Mr Kim.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter, using his sarcastic nickname for Mr Kim.

This came amid Mr Tillerson saying the US had “a couple of, three channels open to Pyongyang”.

Ms Bishop on Friday effectively ruled out sending an Australian delegation to the rogue state, saying the US was having some success communicating with it.

“I believe that the United States is rather advanced in its back channelling with North Korea,” Ms Bishop said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the global community needs to maintain economic pressure on North Korea. /radionz