JOURNALIST: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who joins us from Parliament House from Canberra. Good morning Julie.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Eddie, how are you?
JOURNALIST: Good. We’d like to talk to you on more happy days but can you give us an insight into what is going on with North Korea at the moment and Australia’s response?
JULIE BISHOP: Well this latest test is exponentially more powerful than previous tests by North Korea, it’s a very serious and dangerous escalation. We can’t currently verify whether or not it was a test of a hydrogen bomb however it was a much more powerful weapon than in past tests. These ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs have been banned by the UN Security Council and this test is the latest of many direct challenges by North Korea to the authority of the Security Council. Australia believes that North Korea must pay a significant price for its defiance of the Security Council and that means that all countries must strictly enforce the sanctions and most importantly the permanent members of the Security Council must enforce the economic sanctions against this rogue regime. We want to block its access to the finance it’s using to fund these illegal tests.
JOURNALIST: Julie, the only real way to make an impact though is if China turns on North Korea it would seem. There’s a lot of sabre-rattling going from the United States but you know, the retaliation of North Korea is to put a missile over the top of Japan which was last week’s intimidation, then we get to the weekend and their dropping hydrogen – or using – testing for hydrogen bombs. It’s starting to get right to that stage now. How do we get China involved?
JULIE BISHOP: China has seriously condemned this test in very strong language that we haven’t seen before. China also backed the unanimous sanctions imposed on 5 August. Now they take about 30 days before countries have to implement them so that’s about now, the sanctions ban, sector-wide exports, coal, iron ore, iron, seafood, from the North Korean economy and these are by far the toughest sanctions to date and they will start to hit and hit very hard and China has been backing that. The United States are also talking about broader sanctions against North Korea, we’ll have to see the detail of that, but China has been condemning North Korea’s latest actions and has most certainly said it would implement the sanctions and that includes not providing anymore work visas for North Korean workers to work in China and send the remittances back to the regime that they were using to fund the tests. So this will have significant consequences.
JOURNALIST: Speaking to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this morning here on Triple M. Julie, how important is the language of the US President? He’s been quite a – in question to him – about whether or not military action would take place in North Korea and his answer was “we’ll see”. Do you think that sort of language has been helpful in this?
JULIE BISHOP: Well President Trump’s statement that all options are on the table is in fact a longstanding US policy and including military options and it’s a legal right of the United States to defend itself and its allies to deter North Korea from threatening other countries. So the policy is that of previous US administrations. The language might be more robust and forthright but nevertheless the United States has always had the view that it should defend itself and its allies from any threats from North Korea and deter North Korea from threatening other countries.
JOURNALIST: Julie, it’s – what’s the end game for North Korea – I mean it’s hard to try and figure this out but are they trying to push to brinkmanship and then get economic support as a deal to stop doing this or are they just going rogue and heading off on a path no one can actually fathom?
JULIE BISHOP: Well its past behaviour was always to push regional and global resolve and once they got it to a brink they would sit down and negotiate and they would usually look for more support, more money, more aid from the United States. They want the United States to leave South Korea, they don’t want the US military presence on the Korean Peninsula but while-ever South Korea is under threat from North Korea the United States will remain there. But we’ve seen in the past this, you know, cat and mouse behaviour where they push the region to the edge and then they sit down and negotiate. However we were dealing with the father Kim Jong Il, we’re now dealing with the son and most of the nuclear tests, in fact four out of the six nuclear tests have taken place under Kim Jong Un and most of the ballistic missile tests have taken place under this latest leader Kim Jong Un. I think that he is wanting to advance his country’s illegal capabilities, test region and global resolve as far as he can and then he’ll want to negotiate but he wants to negotiate from a position of strength with the greatest possible leverage.
JOURNALIST: Interesting times because the obvious solution is to act quickly and unilaterally to get him to pull his head right in.
JULIE BISHOP: Well that’s a very dangerous scenario and something that we would want to avoid. I mean apart from the humanitarian cost of war, the major trading partners for Australia are China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and it would be catastrophic for us economically if this were to occur, let alone the humanitarian costs.
JOURNALIST: Alright, well, Julie it’s why you get paid the big money trying to solve all this sort of situation and good luck with everything that you’re doing in Canberra, it’s obviously a tinder box situation where no one is quite sure and we haven’t seen this for a long, long time in world politics, the brinkmanship involved in all this, so thanks very much for coming on this morning and explaining to us Julie.
JULIE BISHOP: Ok, thanks Eddie, cheers.
JOURNALIST: The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joining us this morning.
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