North Korea has accused Australia of being a US “puppet” and deliberately attempting to disturb its peace talks with Seoul by sending a warship to enforce sanctions on the Korean peninsula.
Australian Defence Force chief of joint operations Air Marshall Mel Hupfeld earlier this month announced a warship accompanied by two AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft will be sent to the contested peninsula as part of a multinational operation.
The decision was attacked by North Korean state media late Thursday in a furious editorial describing Australia as “riff-raff”.
“If Australia is interested in the regional situation even a bit, it should behave itself,” the North Korean state-run news agency KCNA quoted the official The Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying.
The article called Australia a “puppet” for listening to Donald Trump’s recommendation to US allies that it employ a tough, direct approach to push North Korea to denuclearise.
“Australia is seeking to destroy the hard-won peaceful atmosphere of the Korean peninsula and the region,” The Rodong Sinmun wrote.
“In case the affirmative atmosphere created on the Korean peninsula is wrecked owing to the riffs-raffs such as Australia, they must be held wholly accountable for it.”
Air Marshall Hupfeld this month said Australia’s warship deployment was part a strategic attempt by the Australian government to emphasise it’s ability to impose hardline sanctions on North Korea.
“Despite the easing of tensions on the Korea Peninsula, Pyongyang continues with its nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons programs in defiance of … United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he said.
“The occasional deployment of … maritime patrol aircraft and surface vessels to the region … adds weight to Australia’s ongoing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea and enhances the capacity of ongoing multinational enforcement efforts,” he added.
Australia is working alongside Japan, the US, Canada and South Korea to enforce sanctions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un authorised the removal of weapons and ammunition from the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom on Thursday as the leaders accelerate the path to economic co-operation between the two countries.