In recent months, North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and testing has posed a major threat to international peace and to the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The North Korean regime has conducted a series of tests of nuclear devices, including possibly testing a hydrogen bomb.
North Korea is the only country testing nuclear weapons. The North Korean regime spends around 25 per cent of GDP on its military, while the North Korean people starve. This reckless conduct is a clear violation of international law. The regime has persisted in the face of repeated demands by the international community to cease.
Australia is working closely with other countries, including the United States, Japan, South Korea and China, to implement all UN Security Council resolutions as well as a strong autonomous sanctions program against individuals and entities supporting North Korea. This includes a full ban on over 90 per cent of all of North Korea’s publicly reported 2016 exports.
I’ve been extremely concerned by North Korea’s actions. On 14 August 2017, I moved a motion in the House of Representatives condemning the provocative actions taken by North Korea through their illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
My motion reinforced the important role Australia has played in consistently applying diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea. This includes co-sponsoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 2270 which condemned the illegal weapons program, and providing strong diplomatic support for further resolutions proposing tighter sanctions.
On Thursday 5 October, I hosted the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop at a community forum in Pennant Hills. The Minister discussed with local residents the implications of North Korea’s actions and the outlook for the Asia-Pacific region.
It’s clear that the importance of this situation has resonated within our local community. I was delighted that more than 200 local residents attended, a standing room only event.
I was also very pleased that many members of our local Korean community were there. Berowra is home to more than 2,000 local residents with a Korean background, many of whom have a strong interest in peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and our regional security.
Minister Bishop outlined the key role the Australian Government is playing in maintaining pressure on the rogue state and the impact the sanctions will have on the elite community within North Korea, thereby pressuring the North Korean leadership to change direction.
“It was a pleasure to visit Pennant Hills and discuss with members of the local community current developments on the Korean peninsula. North Korea presents a grave threat to our region. I’m pleased to see such a strong interest in Australia’s foreign policy and diplomatic activities,” Minister Bishop said.
The audience posed several insightful questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, largely focused on the long-term impacts of imposing sanctions on the North Korean economy. I will continue to speak out against North Korea’s illegal weapons program and actively support the Australian Government’s efforts to bring peace and security to the region.