Sky News, The Morning Shift - Interview with Samantha Maiden

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST: Joining me live is the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. First of all, why did Japan not attempt to shoot down this missile? Was it because it was determined that it was not going to cause any harm flying over that area of Japan?

JULIE BISHOP: This is a serious escalation of the provocative behaviour by North Korea. It's the first time since 1998 that they've actually fired a missile over Japanese territory, but for any nation to fire a missile over the territory of another nation is dangerous, it's threatening, it's provocative. Presumably the Japanese made a calculation about the likely destination of this missile and the fact that it broke up before it landed in the Pacific might have factored into their calculations. But make no mistake, this is a serious escalation of North Korea's behaviour. It is in direct defiance of the UN Security Council resolutions in relation to its ballistic missile testing. We're still waiting for specific details as to the type of missile, but nevertheless it was very dangerous, very threatening, and now we must redouble our efforts to try and bring about a peaceful resolution to the tensions being caused by North Korea's behaviour.

JOURNALIST: What does happen next? Because it does breach this framework that the United Nations has put in place. The US President has threatened his fire and fury – that was obviously in relation to if they were firing a missile in the direction of the US territories, but how do you see this unfolding now after it's passed over Japan in this way?

JULIE BISHOP: I believe that the nations affected – that includes South Korea, Japan, the United States, China, and other members of the Security Council – will discuss ways to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. North Korea is clearly trying to attract attention. It's clearly trying to provoke the US into responding, but the stakeholder nations are determined to resolve this peacefully. I spoke to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last Friday about a number of matters, including North Korea, and he made it quite plain that the United States is determined to resolve this peacefully. They will not be threatened by North Korea and let North Korea get away with it, but at this point they still believe that there's an opportunity to deter North Korea. And the sanctions are just starting to have an impact. As you will recall, recently the UN Security Council imposed -

JOURNALIST: [Interrupts] Well, they're not having much of an impact if they've just fired a missile over Japan though, are they?

JULIE BISHOP: They're just beginning though, they are starting to take effect from 1 September. So these sanctions will start to have a real impact, and this has been to ban all exports of North Korean coal, lead, iron ore, seafood, and also to refuse any new work permits for North Korean workers. This will start to have a significant economic impact on North Korea, and that's when the opportunity will arise to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

JOURNALIST: At what point does the world have to make a decision between taking some sort of military action now against North Korea and facing the prospect of North Korea having nuclear capability?

JULIE BISHOP: North Korea is acting illegally, it's in direct defiance of about six UN Security Council resolutions. So it is, in every sense, a rogue state. It is defying the directions, the resolutions of the UN Security Council. Now that's just totally unacceptable. The international rules-based order depends upon the UN Security Council having authority and having that authority upheld. So at this point, military options would be on the table, as the United States say, but clearly we want to resolve this peacefully. The sanctions must be able to have an impact, and they will, and that will have a significant consequence for North Korea economically speaking. We keep urging North Korea to focus its precious resources on the wellbeing of its impoverished people, rather than building illegal weapons that threaten the region and is a global threat.

JOURNALIST: Doesn't today's action though also suggest that China is having little or no effect?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, actually China has been much more engaged in the North Korean issue than previously, and the United States has brought China far more into the frame, and China has resolved to uphold the UN Security Council resolutions. It was a unanimous resolution to impose these tough, comprehensive sanctions on North Korea and China is abiding by that. So China is taking the lead in terms of imposing the sanctions and understands fully the consequences of that, but China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and the other members of the UN Security Council must continue to bring pressure onto North Korea to ensure that North Korea changes its risk calculation, and Australia likewise is urging other countries – the ASEAN countries, as well as others in the region – to continue to apply pressure on North Korea.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Just finally, the National Security Committee of Cabinet is meeting this morning. Is it now time to revisit this idea of Australia investigating a missile defence system? The Prime Minister and yourself have been very cool on the idea in the past, suggesting it would take a very long time to set up, it would be very expensive. Does today's action change that view?

JULIE BISHOP: First, the National Security Committee is not meeting this morning, but nevertheless you're close to the mark. The whole issue of a missile defence shield comes up in the context of South Korea. My understanding is that it would be totally ineffective in a country the size of Australia. You're comparing South Korea – which is on the border of North Korea – and what can be achieved there, as opposed to a country the size of a continent – which is Australia. So that specific THAAD missile defence shield will not be applicable in Australia, I understand. But of course, we have our security constantly under review by our Defence Force and experts and so we will continue to ensure that we keep Australians as safe as we can.

JOURNALIST: Alright. Thank you very much for your time this morning. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Sam.

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