PM says it would be 'difficult' for North Korea to target NZ

  • 24/04/2017

North Korea is being provocative and threatening, but Prime Minister Bill English doesn't think they've got the ability to target New Zealand.

He expects official intelligence on the capabilities, including nuclear abilities, of the nation "is coming" but his own research indicates it will be "very difficult" for them to target New Zealand or even Australia.

North Korea turned its sights on Australia on Saturday for "blindly and zealously toeing the US line".

"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 the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK," Pyongyang said.

But Mr English described the threat as more of the same from North Korea.

"They're being provocative and threatening with any number of countries," he said.

"When they make a threat like that it's questionable as to whether they can deliver on that threat."

The prime minister is yet to request or receive any official intelligence but said his own research told him it would be difficult to extend that threat to New Zealand, and probably not even Australia.

"I mean, they tried to launch a missile the other day and it blew up so while they're very threatening in their rhetoric we hope there doesn't have to be any testing of whether they can deliver," he said.

Mr English said new foreign minister Gerry Brownlee, who will be sworn in next week, would be involved in discussions with partner countries on North Korea.

"His defence background I think puts him in good stead to be able to make a contribution," he said.