North Korea has accused the US of pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war, but Julie Bishop says Pyongyang has only itself to blame.
“North Korea has vastly increased the threat that it poses to regional and global peace so any rise in tensions is entirely due to the provocative behaviour of North Korea,” the foreign minister told ABC radio on Tuesday.
The Turnbull government believes North Korea is on a path to achieving nuclear weapons capability.
“We believe Kim Jong Un has a clear ambition to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload as far as the United States,” Bishop said.
“That would mean Australia would be in reach, and so unless it is prevented from doing so, it will be a serious threat to the peace and stability of our region and this is unacceptable.”
Both the US president and his deputy Mike Pence have issued stern warnings to North Korea as tensions between the countries continue to fester.
Trump insists all options, including military action, are on the table to prevent North Korea from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
Meanwhile, Pence advised Pyongyang not to test America’s resolve, warning “the era of strategic patience is over” as he inspected the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea.
“It means the Trump administration will seek out new and creative ways to meet the North Korean challenge,” Bishop said of America’s potential response.
“We certainly support the right of our allies and friends to ensure their interests are protected and their citizens defended against any possible attack.”
The foreign minister also reiterated calls for China – as North Korea’s largest trading partner – to use its unique and potentially decisive leverage against the North Korean regime.
“We believe there is more China can do in terms of sanctions and other economic efforts.”
North Korea’s latest missile test fizzled over the weekend, but it conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests last year.
Experts predict it could have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland within a few years.
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