18/04/2017 3:53 PM AEST | Updated 18/04/2017 4:12 PM AEST

Malcolm Turnbull: North Korea A 'Reckless And Dangerous Threat' And China Must Act

'The North Korean regime is a threat to the peace of the region.'

STR via Getty Images
Korean People's howitzers are paraded through Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has excoriated North Korea's "dangerous and reckless conduct" and called on China to pressure Kim Jong-un's regime into ending its threat to "peace and stability" in the world.

As tensions escalate over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development, Turnbull told media on Tuesday that he also backs U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence in saying the "strategic patience has come to an end" and says the "heaviest obligation" is now on China to act.

"The North Korea regime is a reckless and dangerous threat to peace and stability in our region and, indeed, in the world. That's why we have joined with other nations, including our ally, the United States, to put pressure on North Korea to stop its dangerous and reckless conduct," he said.

"The real obligation -- the heaviest obligation -- is on China because China is the nation that has the greatest leverage over North Korea. It has the greatest obligation and responsibility to bring North Korea back into a realm of at least responsibility in terms of its engagement with its neighbours.

"The North Korean regime is a threat to the peace of the region. It is a threat to all of its neighbours in the region."

Turnbull said China's border and economic ties with North Korea puts the onus on them to pressure the North Korean regime into "not threatening to rain down devastation on its neighbours".

"China should do whatever it takes -- and it has many avenues and it has enormous leverage over North Korea, as everyone understands. It has obviously the longest border and he most important, by far, economic relationship.

"It has the ability, if it chooses, to pull North Korea back into at least the position where it is not threatening to rain down devastation on its neighbours, which is what they have been doing.

"So, the onus really is on China. It is a fact that China has the greatest influence over North Korea, and the time has come for the Chinese Government to exercise it."

The Prime Minister also offered assurances to the Australian people that his government is acting to influence international forums and keep North Korea responsible.

"My message is to Australians -- their Government, my Government, is committed to ensuring that the North Korean regime acts responsibly," he said.

"Now, we don't have the leverage that China does. We obviously don't have the military might that the United States does. But what we are able to do is to provide the solidarity and the influence we can in international forums and in our direct engagement with other nations."

Turnbull's comments come as U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea has "gotta behave" when it comes to mounting tensions between the two countries and North Korea's Deputy UN ambassador accused the Trump Administration of acting like "gangsters".

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also joined the condemnation of North Korea on Tuesday, saying the country's nuclear ambitions were a "serious threat to the peace and stability of our region".

The usually tense situation between the North Korea and the U.S. has appeared all the more aggravated with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence visiting the Demilitarisation Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea, this weekend's failed North Korean missile test and the U.S. deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.

There's also been joint U.S-South Korean air force military exercises that Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In-ryong has described as an "aggressive war drill" aimed at his country, while he said North Korea is enraged by U.S. missile attacks on Syria.

While all eyes now seem to be on both China and the United States and their next plans of action, Bishop told ABC Radio that "any rise in tensions is entirely due to the provocative behaviour of North Korea".

"We believe that Kim Jong-Un has a clear ambition to developing an intercontinental missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload as far as the United States that would mean that Australia would be in reach," she said.

"Unless it was prevented from doing so it will be a serious threat to the peace and stability of our region and this is unacceptable."