Malcolm Turnbull condemns North Korean missile test and urges ‘harshest sanctions’


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Julie Bishop says firing ballistic missile over Japan a ‘threatening act’ but Australia stops short of calling it an act of war

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has condemned North Korea’s latest missile test in the “strongest terms” and has urged all nations to impose the “harshest sanctions” against the regime.

He has called on China, for the second time this month, to use its unique economic leverage over North Korea to bring the regime to heel before tensions escalate dangerously on the Korean peninsula.

Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, has called North Korea’s latest missile test a “provocative, dangerous, destabilising and threatening act”, saying the regime is in breach of “numerous UN Security Council resolutions and is acting illegally”.

But she has stopped short calling it an act of war.

“The North Korean regime continues recklessly to threaten the peace and stability of the region and the world,” Turnbull told radio 5AA on Tuesday. “We call on all nations to impose the harshest sanctions as stipulated by the Security Council against North Korea.

“It is vitally important that China plays its part … They have the ability to bring North Korea to its senses without military action and they should use that economic leverage to do so.”

Nations have reacted angrily to news that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile that passed over Japan in the early hours of Tuesday.

The missile flew over the northern Japanese main island of Hokkaido before breaking into three parts and landing in the Pacific, about 1,180km east of the island.

North Korea vowed earlier this month to exact “thousands-fold” revenge against the US after the United Nations imposed new sanctions against the regime in response to its recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The US president, Donald Trump, responded to that threat by vowing to retaliate with “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten to attack the United States. The North Korean regime subsequently responded, matching Trump’s bellicosity by saying it was “carefully examining” a plan for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Last week Pyongyang warned Australia that supporting Trump was a “suicidal act of inviting disaster” .

Experts said on Tuesday the latest missile test over Japan may have been a demonstration of a missile that could hit Guam.

But Bishop did not agree with that assessment, saying North Korea hadn’t proceeded with the threat against Guam, so there were indications it was listening.

“Their response is sometimes hard to assess, and this current missile test is obviously another message, but there are experts who read North Korea’s messaging and I believe that this is an indication that North Korea will be prepared to negotiate,” she said.

She said China was also playing its part in upholding recently imposed Security Council sanctions.

“China was part of the unanimous UN Security Council resolution that imposed the toughest, most comprehensive set of sanctions against North Korea ever and China has confirmed it will fully implement the ban on North Korean coal, lead, iron ore and seafood,” she said.

“China is the major destination, the main destination, for North Korean exports … and [it] is the main destination for North Korean migrant workers.

“[It] has confirmed it will not issue any new work visas for North Korean workers. That will have a significant economic impact on North Korea and that’s what we are seeking to do.”

The shadow foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, said North Korea’s missile test was “illegal and provocative”.

“This is a deeply provocative act, a deeply disturbing act, and confirms yet again that the greatest threat to peace and stability not only in our region but globally is the North Korean regime,” she told Sky News.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Japan who have been subjected to this kind of threat and provocation.

“It reminds us all that we need to stand as one, and the international community, not only in solidarity with Japan, but to continue to pressure this regime to observe internationally the UN sanctions which have been agreed, and to continue to exert all diplomatic pressure necessary.”

Bishop said she did not believe Australia needed a missile defence system similar to South Korea’s but authorities were always “reassessing our security and defence situations”.

“The missile defence shield is not appropriate for Australia,” she said. “It is designed to protect South Korea from aggressive acts from North Korea. If you have ever been to Seoul, you know how close North and South Korea are.

“With the country the size of Australia, we are a continent-size. The Thaad missile shield, I’m advised, would not be appropriate.”

Online Source: The Guardian

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