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International

North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over US allegiance

12:55, Sunday, 23 April, 2017
North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over US allegiance

NORTH Korea’s threat of a nuclear strike on Australia is of “enormous concern” but such threats have become part of the regime’s day-to-day rhetoric, according to the Opposition.
     The rogue state turned its sights on Australia, threatening nuclear retaliation after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said North Korea would be subject to further Australian sanctions.
     North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman accusing the Australian foreign minister of “spouting a string of rubbish against the DPRK over its entirely just steps for self-defence”.
     “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.
     Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles today said North Korea’s statement was a matter of enormous concern, but noted Pyongyang had made similar threats to other nations, even a veiled one at China.But Marles did not believe conflict on the Korean peninsula was particularly likely and backed the approach the US has taken on North Korea.
     “I do think a harder edge being presented by America in respect of North Korea is not a bad thing,” Marles told Sky News on Sunday.
     He believed the early signs coming out of China, an ally of North Korea, were positive, it saying if the problem is going to be dealt with it needs to be through “China, America and the whole world”.
     He said Australia’s global economic interaction was in large measure in that precise part of the world with its major trading partners being China, Japan and South Korea.

“So we have an enormous interest in a stable Korean peninsula and stability in that region,” he said.
     North Korea accused the Australian government of “blindly and zealously toeing the US line” and said Ms Bishop had “better think twice” about the consequences of her “reckless tongue-lashing”.
     “The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US,” it said.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”.
     Earlier this week, Ms Bishop told the ABC 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”.
     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.”

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