North Korea threatened Australia with a nuclear strike should the latter persist in following the United States’ lead.
The threat comes after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s statements in a radio interview, where she reportedly detested the country for threatening regional peace and expressed support for the U.S. policy that “all options are on the table.”
A DPRK spokesman was quoted by state news agency KCNA as responding on Friday (via The Sydney Morning Herald):
“The present government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line. It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government.
“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 warning also comes in the midst of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence’s visit to Australia. This is not the first time North Korea has made such threats, but with reports on the regime’s continued nuclear tests, worries of the international community continue to grow. China recently expressed that it is “gravely concerned.”
The spokesman added:
“The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.”
Blaming U.S. policy, the spokesman reiterated that the Koreas are close to war “in an evil cycle of increasing tensions.”
On Sunday, Bishop struck back at North Korea, asserting that its “threats of nuclear strikes against other nations further underlines the need for the regime to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.”
Bishop said that such weapons and programs present a “grave threat” to North Korea’s neighbors. When left unchecked, she warned that they could have a broader reach, including Australia.
“The North Korean government should invest in the welfare of its long-suffering citizens, rather than weapons of mass destruction,” the minister suggested.
It is speculated that North Korea will run its sixth nuclear test on Wednesday.