Australia is ready for war and will come to the aid of the United States in the event of an attack on US soil, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.
“If there is an attack on the United States, the ANZUS treaty would be invoked and we would come to their aid,” Mr Turnbull told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday morning.
“In terms of defence we are joined at the hip.”
The confirmation came as NBC News in the US gave details on a possible pre-emptive US military strike on North Korea.
Citing unnamed defence officials, NBC reported that the US would use a fleet of B-1B bombers to take out 24 North Korean missile launch sites, according to a plan drawn up by the Pentagon.
Six B-1B bombers, each capable of carrying up to 84 missiles, are stationed at Guam’s military base.
“Since May, the US has conducted 11 drills of such a raid, in which the bombers, taking off from the Pacific island Guam, would take out targets with precisely guided missiles,” the report said.
Mr Turnbull’s unequivocal support for Mr Trump drew fire from Greens leader Richard Di Natale who said it made Australia a target and that Australia should distance itself from the US alliance.
“Malcolm Turnbull, by backing in Donald Trump, has just put a target on our back,” Senator Di Natale said.
Meanwhile, a state-run Chinese media organ has said China should retaliate against the US if President Trump became the aggressor.
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the widely read Global Times wrote in an editorial.
“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
Mr Turnbull also discussed the unfolding situation with US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday night and received a briefing from the Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin and security officials in Canberra on Friday.
Mr Turnbull said the stability of the world was being put at risk by North Korea, and he was committed to working with the US to resolve the situation through diplomatic and economics means.
“But we stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States,” Mr Turnbull said outside the briefing with Air Chief Marshal Binskin.
“The ANZUS treaty means that if America is attacked, we will come to their aid and if Australia is attacked, the Americans will come to ours. We are joined at the hip. The American alliance is the bedrock of our national security.”
Asked on 3AW about the call by former prime minister Tony Abbott to urgently consider a missile defence system, Mr Turnbull said the advice from defence is there is a no benefit to deploying a US-style Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAD) system.
“The reason for that is that THAD’s designed to provide protection for relatively small areas against short-to-intermediate range missiles,” he said.
Australian National University’s Professor Hugh White said the words of national leaders such as Mr Turnbull could influence Mr Trump’s future actions.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about what America has got in mind, and therefore I think it was a bit unwise of Mr Turnbull to commit Australia so plainly,” Prof White said.
– with AAP