Sky News First Edition, interview with Kieran Gilbert

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST:This is First Edition, with me this morning the Foreign Minister JulieBishop joins us live. What's the situation as it stands your advice when itcomes to North Korea? It seems the CIA, the National Security Advisor playingdown concerns of an imminent nuclear confrontation at least.

JULIEBISHOP:NorthKorea has made threats in the past, and it's also carried out ballistic missiletests in the past. It has a history of making and breaking promises. It says itwill tone down its weapon programs but then it refuses to have it verified byindependent inspectors, and of course the Six Party Talks broke up at the endof 2008. So we know that they will continue to make provocative and bellicosestatements. North Korea has threatened the United States now, it has in thepast threatened Japan and South Korea, so it's hard to know how the regime willrespond but we should be using every tool in our diplomatic arsenal to ensurethat we can avoid conflict and most certainly avoid any suggestion of war.

JOURNALIST:And asyou say, they're full of bluster and overnight a statement on the state mediain North Korea suggested that they might be toning down the rhetoric at least alittle bit, suggesting that they DPRK has learned the precious lesson that thedanger of nuclear war can never disappear as long as the US threatens the DPRKwith nukes, and the only means to remove the danger of nuclear war is a nuclearweapon of justice. So still trying to say it is avoiding a confrontation viaits own capacity.

JULIEBISHOP:Ortrying to claim that they need nuclear weapons for deterrence. But as theUnited States has made clear, they are not seeking to invade North Korea, theyare not seeking to threaten North Korea. What they are trying to do is makeNorth Korea give up its illegal weapons program, and North Korea is in defianceof numerous Security Council resolutions, and you can't have one countryundermining the authority of the Security Council in this way. So that's why itwas so important to have the sanctions regime impose the toughest, mostcomprehensive package of sanctions backed by all five permanent members,including China and Russia, and the Security Council more generally, and thoseeconomic sanctions need to be allowed to take effect. I believe that throughdiplomacy and sanctions, we should be able to break through the thinking ofNorth Korea, get it to change its calculation of risk given what's at stake,because any conflict would be catastrophic in terms of human suffering, butalso any conflict in North Asia would obviously be deeply against ourinterests.

JOURNALIST:The Prime Minister said that the ANZUS Treaty would betriggered if the North Koreans do launch a strike on US interests. Would therebe any consultation of the parliament before that occurs or is this just anautomatic triggering by the Government, the Prime Minister would authorisethat?

JULIEBISHOP:As youmight recall from September 11 when Prime Minister Howard invoked the ANZUSTreaty, it was in response to an attack on the US at that time. It would beunheard of for the Executive to wait for a lengthy parliamentary debate beforethe Prime Minister acted. In these circumstances, if a threat were imminent orif in fact there had been an attack on the United States, the Government wouldneed to act quickly, given that our interests would also be at risk.

JOURNALIST: Inour interests in the context of their ICBM is potentially having the capacityto reach Australian shores, have you looked at the prospect of a missiledefence capacity for Australia?

JULIEBISHOP:Ibelieve people have been talking in the context of the THAAD missile defencesystem that's being deployed in South Korea. Given the size of Australia, myunderstanding is that that would not be feasible, but we certainly are alwaysreviewing our security, our capability and Defence have this under constantreview.

JOURNALIST:Nowwe've spoken about the rhetoric from Kim Jong-un, has it been a worry to youand the Government that there's been just as much rhetoric from the Presidentof the United States, which is unusual for the incumbent in the Oval Office tobe matching the dictator in North Korea with their own fiery rhetoric?

JULIEBISHOP:As Secretary of StateTillerson put it, the President was speaking in a language that they hoped KimJong-un would understand because he clearly doesn't understand diplomaticlanguage. For many years there was a policy of strategic patience. It wasduring those years that Kim Jong-un and the regime managed to develop theability it seems to build a miniaturised nuclear device capable of beingattached to an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching theUnited States. So the President is making it very clear in very plain languagethat the United States will not be threatened and North Korea's bluster aboutbombing the United States must be taken to task, so the President has matchedthe rhetoric but he's sending a very clear message that North Korea must changeits behaviour.

JOURNALIST:Hehasn't matched that rhetoric then with action, that's the problem isn't it?It's a cycle of escalation. If he doesn't match that rhetoric with action thenhe looks weak.

JULIEBISHOP:No, Idon't agree. This is where the diplomatic and economic sanction effort mustalso come into play. There are obviously a number of tools in the arsenal andthey include diplomacy, which has worked in the past, we have got North Koreato the negotiating table in the past. But also the economic sanctions, thetoughest, most comprehensive package has now been agreed by the SecurityCouncil and must be applied universally. So Australia is urging all countrieswho have any kind of diplomatic or economic relationship with North Korea touse that leverage to get the country to change its course.

JOURNALIST:Isthere a risk of overstating the influence of Beijing in all of this?

JULIEBISHOP:Idon't believe so. Beijing has a particularly close economic relationship withNorth Korea. Most of North Korea's exports go to China, most of their workersgo to China so they receive remittances from China, virtually all of theirforeign direct investment comes from China, their energy, their oil, theirtechnology. So China has a unique relationship with North Korea. We believethat that relationship must be leveraged to put pressure on North Korea tochange its course.

JOURNALIST:Nowwhile it's obviously a very small economy, it's got a powerful militarycapacity to target Seoul, only kilometres away from Pyongyang, 10 milliondensely populated city. Any military action would be disastrous, wouldn't it,from either side?

JULIEBISHOP: Absolutelycatastrophic and North Korea must know that. South Korea would defend itself,the United States would defend itself, Japan, countries in the region woulddefend themselves. That's the tragedy of North Korea. The impoverished peopleof North Korea aren't having their lives improved in any way as the regimedirects precious resources to building up a military to attack other nationsrather than supporting their impoverished people.

JOURNALIST:Thelast question, a quick one, out of the Daily Telegraph. A security flaw thatmeans the Federal Police can only check people's IDs after they've boardedplanes? Is that right? And will you close that loophole?

JULIEBISHOP: Myunderstanding is that there is a constant review underway to ensure that theAustralian Federal Police have the resources they need, the support, thebacking and the legislative power to carry out their operations, and airportsecurity is one of our highest priorities. If the Australian Federal Policebelieve that there is any need for increase resources or increased legislativepowers, then the Government certainly does what we can to ensure they get it.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, appreciate it.Thanks.


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