Turnbull says Australia will enter conflict if North Korea attacks the US
Australia will come to America's aid if North Korea launches an attack against the US, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed.
11 August, 2017
The prime minister discussed the unfolding situation with US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday night.
"We have an ANZUS agreement and if there is an attack on Australia or the United States then each of us will come to the other's aid," Mr Turnbull told 3AW radio on Friday.
"In terms of defence we are joined at the hip."
Asked about Tony Abbott's call for Australia to urgently consider a missile defence system, Mr Turnbull said the country is constantly reviewing its position.
He said the advice from Defence is there is a no benefit to deploying a US-style 'Terminal High Altitude Area Defence' (THAAD) system.
"The reason for that is that THAAD's designed to provide protection for relatively small areas against short-to-intermediate range missiles," he said.
The Vice President again told the prime minister that the US sees the way to resolve the situation as being through economic sanctions, despite Donald Trump threats of "fire and fury".
"That is the preferred way to deal with it but of course if North Korea decides to carry out some of its violent threats then obviously terrible consequences will follow," Mr Turnbull said.
Labor leader Bill Shorten believes nations need to concentrate on encouraging Pyongyang to de-escalate tensions.
"The big concern is actually not the United States, it's the bellicose and provocative actions of the North Korean dictatorship," he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Shorten insists the government and opposition share the same concerns about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's pursuit of nuclear missiles.
"Australians should be reassured that on this matter of North Korea and our national security, the politics of Labor and Liberal are working absolutely together," he said.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has called on the prime minister to ditch the US alliance, and to urge an "unhinged and paranoid" Donald Trump to de-escalate the situation with North Korea.
"Malcolm Turnbull, by backing in Donald Trump, has just put a target on our back," Senator Di Natale told reporters in Canberra on Friday
New Zealand can't commit to an aggressive response against North Korea while encouraging other parties to avoid escalating the situation, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday committed to supporting the US in the event of an attack by North Korea, but New Zealand won't make the same promises.
Mr Brownlee says instead that now is a time for caution.
"Committing to an aggressive response now - while encouraging all involved to avoid escalation - is not a position we want to take," he said from Fiji where he is meeting his Pacific region counterparts.
Mr Brownlee said Australia was New Zealand's only formal ally and if an armed conflict did develop options would be assessed at the time.
Earlier Prime Minister Bill English said any military support for the US would be considered "on its merits".
He said any military support at this stage is hypothetical and he's still focused on a "peaceful resolution" of nuclear threats between the two nations.
"While there's been an escalation of rhetoric there isn't any indication that military action's going to occur," he said.
"We're in close contact with the US and Australia but any decision New Zealand makes about North Korea we make according to our own interests."
Under the ANZUS Treaty, in effect since 1952, Australia is obliged to back the US in the event of an attack like that threatened by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Guam, through the ANZUS treaty.
US-New Zealand obligations under the treaty have been suspended since 1984.
Mr Turnbull said Australia would invoke the treaty.
"In terms of defence, we are joined at the hip," he told Australia's 3AW radio on Friday.
US President Donald Trump this week threatened North Korea with "fire and fury", which was derided as a "load of nonsense" by North Korea's military.
He upped the ante later in the week, telling reporters the fire and fury comment maybe "wasn't tough enough".
Mr English said he didn't want to see comments that escalate the tension, again describing Mr Trump's latest remarks as "not helpful".
"The US does remain committed to working to resolve these issues without military intervention," he said.
He remains focused on peaceful resolution, working with the UN, US, China and Russia to put pressure on North Korea.