POLITICS

Korea At A Flashpoint: Greatest Risk Of Conflict In 64 Years, Turnbull Says

Malcolm Turnbull says Kim Jong-un is evil.

04/09/2017 9:09 AM AEST | Updated 04/09/2017 9:09 AM AEST
Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Malcolm Turnbull: "The risk of war on the Korean Peninsula is greater than it has been for over 60 years."

CANBERRA -- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has assessed the threat of conflict on the Korean Peninsula as at its greatest since hostilities ended in the Korean War 64 years ago.

No peace treaty was ever signed in 1953 and the two Koreas are technically still at war, but North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test and the boast of a missile-ready nuclear weapon is testing the international community.

U.S. President Donald Trump has described Sunday's hydrogen bomb test as a "hostile and dangerous" move, while Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has described it as illegal, a "serious escalation" and "exponentially more powerful than previous tests".

The United States is threatening a "massive military response" as well as cutting ties with any country doing business with Pyongyang.

Australia's Prime Minister has declared the Korean Peninsula has been taken to the brink and is again urging China to do more, while agreeing with former Prime Minister John Howard's description of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "evil" and heading a "dangerous, provocative and illegal" regime.

"The risk of war on the Korean Peninsula is greater than it has been for over 60 years," he told reporters in Canberra.

"Conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be a disaster for the region and for the world.

"The time has come for China to take the responsibility, to respond to this affront with strong action that brings this regime to its senses."

The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to decide its response at the request of several countries -- the U.S, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea.

Turnbull has again suggested China could cut off North Korea's oil supply.

"That absolutely would be a lever that China could pull and that would put enormous economic pressure on the regime," the Prime Minister told the ABC Radio's AM program on Monday.

When asked if Kim Jong-un was "evil," Turnbull responded, "Yes. I don't think there is any doubt about that".

"This is a person that routinely assassinates members of his own family, other people, other would-be threats into the regime.

"It is a cruel and evil dictatorship and he starves his own people. Look, this is a shocking, dangerous, provocative, illegal regime that is threatening the peace and security of the region and the world, and is advancing nobody's interests other than the maintenance of that one family's dictatorship of North Korea."

China's foreign ministry has been pushing back at calls from Western countries and Japan for China to do more. State-run newspaper, The Global Times, has also attacked British and Australian leaders focusing on China.

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