Sign in / Join

North Korean missile could hit Australia within two years, US diplomat warns

This content requires the Adobe Flash plugin

James Caruso, the US charge d’affaires based in Canberra, told The Australian “extreme concern” was mounting about North Korea’s intentions after the rogue state yesterday declared it was ready for “war” and had its “nuclear sight” trained on America over what it sees as acts of aggression by the Trump administration.

North Korea last week tested a mid-range ballistic missile, prompting President Donald Trump to send a US naval fleet to the western Pacific in response. The Americans believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to the US within four years, according to reports.

“(It) is very clear North Korea is a problem,” Mr Caruso told the newspaper.

“They’ve gone from using these (weapons) tests to get attention to now really making these tests to do tests. The question has been: what do we want to do about it?”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning said North Korea was threatening the peace of the world as he called on China to do more to foil the hermit kingdom.

“The reckless and dangerous conduct of the North Korean regime is threatening peace and stability not just in the region but the whole world,” Mr Turnbull said.

Video stills broadcast on local television purportedly showed North Korea launching four missiles in an undisclosed location on March 22. Picture: KRT via AP Source:AP

“We continue to call on China to exercise the undoubted influence it has over the North Korean regime to pull it back from further reckless conduct.”

Tensions have ratcheted up on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea tested the missile last week while Chinese President Xi Jinping was meeting with President Trump in Florida.

In a statement, the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang vowed to counter America’s “reckless acts of aggression” in deploying the naval fleet with “self-defensive and pre-emptive strike capabilities with the nuclear force at the core”.

“We will make the US fully accountable for the catastrophic consequences that may be brought about by its highhanded and outrageous acts,” the statement said.

President Trump is not backing down, tweeting overnight that he would “solve the problem” of North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Supreme People’s Assembly in central Pyongyang. Picture: KRT via AP)

Meanwhile, China is said to be amassing troops as the North Korean border.

“It is hard to see any rational approach to what he does, other than true paranoia,” Mr Caruso said of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“If he’s worried about his position, and holding on to his power and all the cost, no matter what the cost is — the world shouldn’t be comfortable.”

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has fallen as global concern rises over the conflict in Syria and tensions on the Korean peninsula.

At 6.30am AEST, the Australian dollar was at 74.96 US cents, down from 75.03 cents on Thursday.