Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says now is the time for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
The plea comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said his country no longer needed to conduct nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons, the Korean Central News Agency said.
Ms Bishop spoke to reporters in London on Saturday following the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Australia’s role in the Commonwealth has also been elevated with Ms Bishop made the deputy chair of a key committee.
‘The prospect of talks between North Korea and the US is one that we must pursue and it’s a sign that North Korea may well be genuine in looking to denuclearise in the longer term,’ foreign minister Julie Bishop said
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un says his country no longer needed to conduct nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons
‘The statements by North Korea must be followed by verifiable steps that they are going to comply with the numerous United Nations’ Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic programs,’ Ms Bishop said.
‘In the past North Korea has made promises and then failed to honour them, so we need to see verifiable steps that it will abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons programs.’
US President Donald Trump said the announcement showed progress.
‘North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit,’ Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
North Korea has said its nuclear and missile programs are necessary deterrents against US hostility.
It conducted numerous missile tests, with the aim of being able to hit the US with a nuclear bomb.
US President Donald Trump said the announcement showed progress
President Trump took to Twitter to welcome the move
Ms Bishop said North Korea had previously ignored pressure from the international community regarding its nuclear ambitions.
‘This has always been our concern, that the previous international policy of strategic patience enabled North Korea, in defiance of numerous UN Security Council resolutions, to continue building capability in its intercontinental ballistic and nuclear weapons programs,’ she said.
‘The prospect of talks between North Korea and the US is one that we must pursue and it’s a sign that North Korea may well be genuine in looking to denuclearise in the longer term. But we must remember we’ve seen this before, we need to see verifiable steps before we can be optimistic about the outcome.’
Analysts cautioned that the declaration was promising but restricted, The Australian reports.
‘Certainly this is a positive development,’ said Daniel Pinkston of Troy University.
‘It’s a necessary but not sufficient step in North Korea returning to its past non-roliferation commitments.’
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered a cautious welcome but his defence minister said North Korea did not mention the short- or medium-range missiles that put Tokyo within reach.