Labor leader Bill Shorten has warned the threat to peace and stability posed by North Korea means now is not the time for making inflammatory statements like “joined at the hip”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week said Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip”, and pledged Australia would come to the aid of its ally if there was an attack by North Korea.
“It is the job of responsible nations and responsible leaders to urge the entire international community to make every effort to de-escalate this conflict – this is not the time for the beating of drums or chests,” Mr Shorten told the Labor caucus on Tuesday.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has been briefed on military’s plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam as part of an effort to create “enveloping fire” near the US military hub in the Pacific.
Kim said North Korea would conduct the planned missile launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity” and that the US should “think reasonably and judge property” to avoid shame, the news agency said.
Lobbing missiles toward Guam would be a deeply provocative act. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the US will take out any missile seen to be heading for American soil and declared a North Korean attack could lead to war.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia continues to work with allies to put political, diplomatic and economic pressure on the reclusive state to change its behaviour.
Australia has designated 37 individual and 31 entities, which have been involved in North Korea’s weapons testing program, for travel bans and financial sanctions.
Ms Bishop welcomed news overnight that China was fully implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions that impose the toughest package of sanctions on North Korea to date.
“China has stated it is completely prohibiting the import from North Korea of coal, oil, iron ore,” she told reporters in Canberra.