AUSTRALIA will join military action against North Korea if the rogue nation fires a nuclear warhead at the United States, acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has confirmed.
As Malcolm Turnbull heads to Germany for talks with other G20 leaders, Mr Joyce is ramping up pressure on China to step in and “stop this madness”. His call comes after US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that America would use force “if we must” against North Korea, after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to reach Darwin or Alaska.
“No one should ever go too far in testing the resolve of the United States of America,” Mr Joyce told Sky News on Thursday.
“If North Korea was to deliver a warhead into the United States of America then the ANZUS alliance would be called in.” Asked what action that may involve, Mr Joyce said: “What would you want?” “If someone drops a nuclear warhead on a country what do you think happens next?” One of Australian’s most senior military commanders insists the risk of a strike on the country’s north by North Korea remains low.
Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said that despite Pyongyang’s aggressive demonstrations, the range and capability of the missile launched this week is still to be determined.
“There is very little risk at the moment to the northern part of our country,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“But it’s an area where North Koreans have clearly demonstrated capability and we all need to better understand it — including what the consequences may be from a military perspective.” Given the low threat to Australia’s mainland, Vice Admiral Johnston said there hasn’t been an immediate focus on amassing a system to defend against missiles. The focus now was on applying diplomatic pressure on North Korea to stop their nuclear program and the development of missile technology.
“Where there’s emerging issues that require military support, the ADF has the capability to provide the government (with) options and we’re able to do so.” Earlier, Mr Joyce revealed Australia had “sympathy” with calls to impose trade sanctions on countries such as China, in retaliation for giving North Korea an economic lifeline.
Mr Joyce argued the greatest economic threat to China was North Korea’s potential to create instability in the region.
Asked about a US warning to cut off trade with countries doing business with North Korea, he told ABC radio: “We obviously have sympathy.” But Mr Joyce warned the effect of trade sanctions would pale into insignificance against what would happen if North Korea continues down its nuclear program path.
“If North Korea was to make a mistake in one of its launches … and drop one of their missiles into South Korea or onto Japan then the economic plan for China, the economic plan for South East Asia would cease that moment.” Labor called on the prime minister and foreign minister to clarify whether the government was considering such sanctions.
“The government must urgently clarify this, and one day into his overseas travel, the prime minister must pull his deputy into line,” opposition trade spokesman Jason Clare and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said. Trade sanctions on China would devastate Australian farmers, they said.
North Korea promises US another ‘gift package’ following missile launch
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called Tuesday’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile a “brilliant victory” and promised that more “gift packages” will be given to Americans.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim called the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) a gift for the “American bastards” as U.S. citizens celebrated the Fourth of July.
The country’s state media reportedly described Kim as “feasting his eyes” on the ICBM, which was said to be capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, before its launch. “With a broad smile on his face,” Kim urged his scientists to continue to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees as ever so that they would not feel weary.”
Experts said that these so-called “gift packages” are a promise that the country is planning more missile and nuclear tests that are banned by the United Nations.
Tuesday’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch was North Korea’s most successful one yet. (AP)
The missile launch was confirmed by U.S. and South Korean officials and also caused enough worry that officials called an emergency U.N. Security Council session on Wednesday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed the missile was an ICBM and said the U.S. response would include “stronger measures to hold the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) accountable.”
The ICBM launch is a milestone in North Korea’s efforts to develop long-range missiles with nuclear warheads, although analysts suggested it will take several more years and many more tests to perfect an arsenal.
The missile test, North Korea’s most successful yet, was a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump’s earlier declaration on Twitter that such a test “won’t happen!” The launch also came days after Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House and ahead of a summit of the world’s richest economies.
In response to the ICBM launch, U.S. and South Korean troops engineered a show of force for North Korea on Wednesday, with soldier from the allies firing “deep strike” precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters. Moon ordered the drills with the United States to show “North Korea our firm combined missile response posture,” his office said.
A U.S. scientist analyzing the height and distance of North Korea’s launch said the missile could potentially reach Alaska. The state is a little more than 3,500 miles from North Korea.
North Korea has a reliable arsenal of shorter-range missiles and is thought to have a small number of atomic bombs, but is still trying to perfect its longer-range missiles. Some outside civilian experts believe the North has the technology to mount warheads on shorter-range Rodong and Scud missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan, two key U.S. allies where about 80,000 American troops are stationed. But it is unclear if it has mastered the technology needed to build an atomic bomb that can fit on a long-range missile.
North Korea said it needed nuclear weapons and powerful missiles to cope with what it calls rising U.S. military threats.
The country will likely receive more international sanctions as a response to the launch, but North Korea is already one of the most sanctioned countries on Earth.
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