As Australian soldiers take part in a 10-day war games exercise in South Korea, a North Korean official newspaper has described Australia’s involvement as a “suicidal act”.
This brought a swift rebuke from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told the ABC that “all countries” must help “bring North Korea to its senses”.
“North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbours and no regard for international law,” he said in a statement.
“We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and dangerous threats to the peace of our region and the world.”
The Australians are working in the command-and-control post during the exercise which started on Monday and involves more than 17,000 American troops along with small contingents from Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
In an editorial, the official North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun said the Australian involvement was “a suicidal act of inviting disaster”.
“It is an illustration of political immaturity, unaware of the seriousness of the current situation,” the agency said, adding: “Australia followed the US to the Korean War, the Vietnamese War and the war on terrorism, but heavy loss of lives and assets were all that it got in return.
“Countries like Australia that join the military adventure against the DPRK, blindly following the US, will never avoid the counter-measures of justice by the DPRK.”
Mr Turnbull earlier this month 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.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has been briefed on the 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.
Mr 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.
Army says there’s no risk to its personnel
Chief of Army Angus Campbell last week denied there would be any risk to the Australian military personnel participating in the annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games which will run until August 31.
Both the US and South Korea have said the war games were defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
According to the US Department of Defence, the annual activity involves about 40,000 troops, along with civilian South Korean government personnel who train their civil defence responses.
− with AAP, ABC