North Korea warns Australia of nuclear strike for 'blindly' following US

North Korea has warned Australia is "coming within the range of a nuclear strike" over their support for the United States' approach to the isolated country.

During a visit from US Vice President Mike Pence, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told media she supports the US' foreign policy of keeping "all options on the table" in regards to the totalitarian dictatorship's provocative actions in the region. 

North Korea's state news agency KCNA has issued a string of over-the-top threats, warning: "The Australian Foreign Minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.

"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," KCNZ reported, according to a Sydney Morning Herald translation.

Now the New Zealand Government has spoken out in support of Australia.

The comments from North Korea are "outrageous" and the North Korean regime is led by people with evil intent who are causing suffering, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told TVNZ's Q+A on Sunday.

New Zealand's Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong)
New Zealand's Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong)

Mr Brownlee said he would prefer the use of sanctions and diplomacy over US-led military action in curbing the state's use of weapons.

"This is a country that is economically very depressed but spending a huge sum of money sending some of those missiles into the Japan sea, and constantly threatening those all around with what they are trying to project as some degree of military might" Mr Brownlee said.

But while North Korea's bold worlds have provoked response from both Australian and New Zealand officials, an academic says they are all rhetoric.

While the threat is distressing, irritating and frustrating, it is part of a pattern of behaviour from North Korea, Associate Professor of Politics Stephen Hoadley of the University of Auckland told Newshub.

"I don't think Australians should lose too much sleep about an imminent attack from North Korea."

The bold words from North Korea come as pressure mounts on the rogue state.

Mr Pence has repeatedly condemned North Korea's weapons programme and called on US allies to pressure China into exerting their influence on North Korea. China shares a border with North Korea, and is one of the country's few allies.

Mr Pence thanked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "for calling on China even this week to play an even more active and constructive role in addressing the North Korean threat".

Despite Ms Bishop's comment that all options are on the table, Mr Turnbull would not commit to backing any US military strikes on the country.

"At this stage, the support we are providing is at the level of diplomacy [and] is of critical importance," he said.

"The eyes of the world are on Beijing. We seek leadership from China to join the leadership shown by the US and Japan and Australia and other nations around the world committed to peace."

This week, China has turned back North Korean coal exports, and Chinese media has speculated the Chinese government may be considering cutting fuel supplies to North Korea.


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