Sky News First Edition interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Returning to our top story now, this North Korean test. With me, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Now, the intelligence that I've seen, the Australian intelligence, suggests that this takes the threat to a whole new level in terms of the coercive capacity of North Korea. Obviously you won't comment on the intelligence, but it's pretty obvious that this blast was much more powerful than anything we've seen from that regime before.

JULIE BISHOP: It's exponentially much more powerful than anything we've seen before. We are still to verify precisely what type of bomb test it was, but this is a dangerous escalation and we must redouble our efforts to compel North Korea to change its behaviour and deter it from carrying out any further tests. They are in direct defiance of the authority of the UN Security Council.

JOURNALIST: It's a dangerous, and we seem to be talking about escalations each week, but when does it hit the point that the US says we just have to take out this regime?

JULIE BISHOP: There are still a number of options to be pursued, including sanctions, which I've spoken about previously. They don't take effect, essentially, until this week and they are significant sanctions. They will over time have an impact on North Korea to raise finance to fund this illegal ballistic missile and nuclear test regime. The United States is talking about broader sanctions. The UN Security Council has the ability to impose even tougher sanctions, but North Korea must pay a significant price for its continued defiance of UN Security Council authority.

JOURNALIST: One of the things that – again, from this intelligence advice – suggests that the US public threat perceptions could change off the back of this event. Therefore, if that happens there's more pressure then, isn't there, on the Trump Administration to take action, to use force?

JULIE BISHOP: This would be North Korea's sixth nuclear test. It's also carried out dozens and dozens of ballistic missile tests. Each one of those tests is illegal, in defiance of the UN Security Council authority. So the five members of the United Nations Security Council must take action, but I would argue that we are yet to see the full impact of sanctions. We could impose even tougher sanctions. With China, we're talking about banning the export of oil to North Korea, that would have a significant impact. But there must be unprecedented pressure placed on North Korea by the entire international community.

JOURNALIST: But there's no sign that this individual, this dictator's going to react in a way that we would expect. He's been so, well, not unpredictable, quite predictable in the use of force, but very brazen in his use of force.

JULIE BISHOP: He's certainly ratcheting it up, and the scale and pace and the tempo behind these ballistic and nuclear tests has increased substantially. But that's why we need the international community to roundly condemn it and to impose the toughest set of sanctions yet. And I have to say, up until 5 August the sanctions were not as tough as those imposed against other countries that aren't carrying out illegal nuclear tests. So the sanctions regime has to have time to fully impact. That will take some weeks, months. But I know…

JOURNALIST: [Interrupting] Do you feel that the Chinese will enforce that? The statement overnight was very strong, but will they deliver on that?

JULIE BISHOP: It was a very strong condemnation. The Chinese Government were part of the 5 August declaration on sanctions from the United Nations Security Council. Both China and Russia have committed to ensuring that those sanctions are enforced, and the United States and China are talking about even broader sanctions. If you can prevent North Korea from accessing the finance to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, then you might start to make a breakthrough.

JOURNALIST: But while you've got cooperation from China on that front, we're seeing threats from the US. The Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, also the President, Mr Trump, suggesting that trade tariffs – in fact an end to trade – with countries that deal with North Korea could be implemented as a result of this latest nuke test. That would be mainly China, wouldn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: That is a very serious threat and that reflects the gravity with which the United States views this current situation with North Korea. The tensions, this whole scenario, has been created because North Korea is in direct defiance of UN Security Council authority and it's directly challenging the authority of the UN Security Council. Now, that is just utterly unacceptable, and that's why the United States, China, Russia and other members of the Security Council must ensure that the sanctions are enforced, implemented to the fullest extent, and we should be considering other sector-wide economic sanctions against North Korea.

JOURNALIST: Because a trade war between the US and China would be another diabolical scenario, wouldn't it?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, China and the United States are amongst our two biggest trading partners. It would be a terrible outcome, and so we want to ensure that China, the United States, Russia, everybody's on the same page when it comes to condemning North Korea and taking action against North Korea.

JOURNALIST: And finally, Minister, just on some news at home. This Newspoll suggests that the Government's primary vote up a couple of points, the Prime Minister in the preferred PM stakes is extending his lead over Bill Shorten. Are you reassured by that survey today?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I'm always reassured when polls are heading in the right direction and these polls are.

JOURNALIST: Alright, Minister, thanks for your time.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you.

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