Kim Jong threatens Australia with nukes
NORTH Korea has bluntly warned Australia of a possible nuclear strike if Canberra persists in “blindly and zealously toeing the US line”.
North Korea’s state new agency (KCNA) quoted a foreign ministry spokesman castigating Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop after she “spouted a string of rubbish” against the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK,” the report said.
“The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.” Earlier this week Ms Bishop 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.
The KCNA report said that what Ms Bishop had said “can never be pardoned” as it was “an act against peace” and North Korea’s “entirely just steps for self defence”.
It said Australia was shielding a hostile US policy of nuclear threats and blackmail against North Korea which was the root cause of the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula and encouraged the US to opt for “reckless and risky military actions”.
“The present government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line.” The report said the situation on the Korean Peninsula was “inching close to the brink of war in an evil cycle of increasing tensions”.
US Vice-President Mike Pence is in Australia and the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles programs were high on the agenda in talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Pence would not rule out the use of military force in North Korea but said “all options are on the table” and he stressed the US was focused on diplomacy at this stage.
He continued the pressure on the rogue state during his visit saying the US supercarrier Carl Vinson will arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, after the mixed messages from Washington over the warship’s whereabouts.
The strike group was supposedly steaming towards North Korea last week amid soaring tensions over the rogue state’s apparent ramping up for a sixth nuclear test, with Pyongyang threatening to hit back at any provocation.
Experts told The Hill that the US is unlikely to have been behind North Korea’s botched missile launch last week, despite rampant speculation that the explosion was the result of an Obama-era cyber sabotage program.
“North Korea is pushing really hard to pursue ballistic missiles. Any accelerated program experiences many failures,” said Joseph Bermudez, an analyst for 38 North, a program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“The probability is higher for this to be failures produced by an aggressive program with limited resources.”
But the US Navy, which had earlier said the aircraft carrier would sail north from waters off Singapore as a “prudent measure” to deter the regime, admitted on Tuesday the ships were in fact sent away from Singapore and towards Australia to conduct drills with the Australian navy.
The aircraft carrier will arrive “in a matter of days”, Mr Pence said.
Also on Saturday North Korea appeared to take aim at China in a thinly veiled warning of catastrophic consequences to their bilateral relations, as it asked its historic ally not to step up sanctions.
The warning came in a commentary titled “Are you good at dancing to the tune of others”, released by the state-owned KCNA news agency. While the commentary did not mention China by name, Pyongyang expressed its criticism of “a country around the DPRK”.
“The country is talking rubbish that the DPRK has to reconsider the importance of relations with it and that it can help preserve security of the DPRK and offer necessary support and aid for its economic prosperity, claiming the latter will not be able to survive the strict ‘economic sanctions’ by someone,” the commentary said.
It added that if “the country” continues applying sanctions on Pyongyang, “it may be applauded by the enemies of the DPRK, but it should get itself ready to face the catastrophic consequences” in bilateral relations.
In February, Beijing announced that it would not buy coal – North Korea’s main export – from Pyongyang for the rest of the year in support of a United Nations resolution.
Official media in China have also suggested the possibility of suspending exports of hydrocarbons if North Korea conducts a new nuclear test. Pyongyang’s apparent criticism of its principal ally, although made indirectly, reflects an estrangement between Beijing and the increasingly isolated regime of Kim Jong Un.