Nova 93.7 Breakfast, interview with Nathan, Nat and Shaun

  • Transcript, E&OE

NAT: The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop, who is on the line right now. Obviously the first question we need to ask you Julie, is how happy were you about the West Coast Eagles making the 8?

SHAUN: Great question, Nat.

JULIE BISHOP: I was absolutely beside myself. I mean, what a fantastic win and beating the Crows by 29 points slips them into the finals and now we're daring to dream.

SHAUN: Well Julie, we'd like to say, could you make over to Adelaide but you've got a few other things on your plate at the moment.

JULIE BISHOP: Just one or two.

SHAUN: Have you slept much in the last few days with all the stuff going on with North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: Well it is an unprecedented act, this latest missile test is a serious escalation of North Korea's ongoing illegal, provocative, risky behaviour. To fire a ballistic missile over the territory of Japan is so dangerous and threatening and of course it's in direct defiance of numerous UN Security Council resolutions, so North Korea's now just thumbing its nose at the authority of the UN Security Council.

NAT: So what are the repercussions, what can the Security Council do?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, the collective strategy is to impose and fully implement a wide range of economic sanctions on North Korea. Up until now, the sanctions have been against individuals and there has been rather haphazard implementation that North Korea could evade, but now we have a much stronger sanctions regime that is about to bite and North Korea will learn that it will pay a penalty for its behaviour. The toughest set of sanctions to date include banning the exports of North Korea of coal, which is its largest export, iron, lead, seafood – this is worth billions of dollars to North Korea over time and will strip them of the revenue that they are using to fund these illegal ballistic and nuclear weapons tests.

NATHAN: The scary thing about North Korea though, I feel like if it was a normal country then that would probably work because you have to look after your people, but from what I can see they don't care about the people…

NAT: He doesn't care about the people.

NATHAN: … so he would just dig his heels in and its really scary Julie, because we don't know whether we're on the brink of something right now or not. When we look at the news, I'm sure kids are getting worried…

SHAUN: Yeah, how far is this line?

JULIE BISHOP: Well the political and diplomatic and economic options, the pressure being brought to bear around the world, must be given time to work and so Australia is urging all countries to full implement those sanctions against North Korea, particularly China and Russia who've got economic relationships with North Korea, and the US will use whatever leverage it has against financial entities in China and Russia that are also providing finance to North Korea. So these sanctions must be given time to work. In the meantime, obviously we are seeking to engage North Korea to start negotiations. The discussions are happening and it's just a question of the conditions under which negotiations to sit around a table and –

NAT: How does that happen, do you ring someone, do you Facebook message them?

JULIE BISHOP: I don't think they answer the phone that often, but they are listening, I think we can be sure that they are listening. They certainly heard President Trump's words about what would happen if they fired over Guam, which is US territory, but of course the United States will defend its allies and that includes Japan and South Korea and the North Korean regime must understand that the US would act if there were a direct attack on Japan or South Korea.

SHAUN: So if they act, we're in, so I guess a lot of people out there would be thinking ok, we've seen Donald Trump, we don't know the man himself but we see and not a lot of people agree with his ideologies – thank you Natalie – but, so I guess everyone could be concerned he might go "you know, I've had enough of this" boom, press a button and all the sudden we're in.

NAT: Yes, World War III.

JULIE BISHOP: Well, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula are caused solely by North Korea's defiance of Security Council resolutions that makes what it's doing illegal. Now, many US Administrations have had an all options on the table strategy including the Trump Administration but previously Administrations, previous Presidents, have also said all options are on the table including military options when it comes to North Korea.

NATHAN: But we've never had anyone that's so well versed in saying "you're fired" while pressing a button, so that's a concern…

JULIE BISHOP: There's a whole range of people within the White House and the State Department and the Defense Department. I've been talking recently with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and he's made it quite clear that the US will pursue all options, political, diplomatic, economic, and I really do believe North Korea can be deterred, the question is what do they want in return for sitting down at the negotiating table. In the past it's been more money, more access for their exports, a whole range of issues. The difference of course now is North Korea has been able to develop its ballistic missile capability and we fear develop the capability to attach a miniaturised nuclear device to one of its missiles, so its upping the ante but I do believe it can be deterred if we can find the right circumstances to sit down and talk with them.

NATHAN: Do you have two phones, one phones a person "everything's ok, I can answer that phone", and one phones like a "oh my god, what is this call" phone?

JULIE BISHOP: I have many phones and I have many apps and when things come up on certain apps I say "Oh My God".

NAT: So do your phones have different ring tones? So if you're at the other end of the house you know whether it's the…

NATHAN: Yeah, who's got the imperial march, the Darth Vader ring tone?

JULIE BISHOP: Hang on, that'd be telling.

NATHAN: But it's in there!

SHAUN: Hey Julie, have you ever been to North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: Yes I have, I've been to the Demilitarised Zone back earlier this year and I flew into South Korea and then we went via the US, they took us up to the Demilitarised Zone. So I was actually in North Korean territory right on the border and I met with a number of people there and the whole time there were these huge North Korean soldiers, I mean really huge guys, I don't know where they get them from but they had these really huge guys who were taking photographs through the window of me standing there talking to people…

NAT: Wow.

JULIE BISHOP: … and every time I turned around they'd just be there with an old camera just clicking away, taking photographs. So I got people to take photographs of them taking photographs of me. It was all bizarre, it was really weird.

NAT: They probably had to send theirs to the chemist to get processed though. The people obviously, we've heard stories about how impoverished and essentially they're being left to starve, are we seeing, you know, are there refugees able to get out of North Korea?

JULIE BISHOP: Very few, some do escape to South Korea, some escape into China but the UN did a detailed inquiry into the status of humanitarian situation in North Korea and it's dire. The people of North Korea are impoverished, they're suffering and we continually urge North Korea to use its precious resources to support its impoverished people rather than spending it on expensive nuclear and ballistic missile testing to threaten our region and threaten the globe.

NAT: Julie, over there the propaganda, is it powerful that they do believe the whole, you know, Kim Jong Un is amazing and nothing can touch him or do you think they believe that because of the fear behind not believing that?

JULIE BISHOP: That's a very good question. I believe that Kim Jong Un would stop at nothing to preserve his regime and his family legacy. We've seen reports of assassinations of family members. This is all about keeping himself in power and to a certain extent so is this behaviour, this illegal behaviour with ballistic missile testing. It's all about ensuring that he is the most powerful person in North Korea and he remains in control. But at some point people do learn about what's going on in the outside world. It's a very slow trickle but people are leaving North Korea, they are seeking to get out and that's one of the great fears, that the regime would collapse and then of course you would have millions of people seeking refuge in countries bordering North Korea. So we've got to continue this collective strategy of pressuring North Korea diplomatically, politically and economically, bring them to the negotiating table and see if we can talk some sense into Kim Jong Un.

NAT: Alright, keep fighting the good fight.

NATHAN: Julie, we're proud of you. You know what I love, if a stray missile comes around we'll just send you to the coast and you'll just stare it down. It will just stop in mid-flight and turn back and go 'see you later lady'

JULIE BISHOP: I wish it were so easy.

SHAUN: Good luck with your Eagles.

JULIE BISHOP: Ok, thanks guys. Bye.

SHAUN: See you.

NAT: Thank you so much.

- Ends -

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