Saturday 23 July 2011

Australia may be nuclear target: Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd and regional ASEAN Regional Forum ministers pose in Nusa Dua, Bali Source: AP

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs are a direct threat to Australia.

Mr Rudd today accused his North Korean counterpart of being “detached from reality”. He lashed out following an intervention by Foreign Minister Pak U’i-chu’un at the ASEAN Regional Forum blaming the US, South Korea and Japan for  provoking the current dangerous instability on the Korean Peninsula.

Earlier, the North Korean minister had won some commendation for agreeing to meet his South Korean counterpart here yesterday, the first high-level official contact between the two nations in more than a year.
However a fired-up Mr Rudd said Mr Pak and his colleagues needed to re-engage with reality if their renewed discussions with the outside world were to bear any fruit.

“It’s clear to me that the government of North Korea is detached from reality if it believes that others are the sources of this destabilisation rather than they themselves,” the  former Australian prime minister said later.
And in remarks reminiscent of his former Liberal foreign minister Alexander Downer five years ago, Mr Rudd said North Korea’s uranium weaponisation program had the objective of putting nuclear warheads on long-range missiles was a direct threat to Australia.

“Its a serious matter; it’s not out there on the margins of our national security concerns; it’s real and I reflected those concerns to the North Koreans today.

“If it’s a long-range missile which is developed over time ... then of course it represents a threat to Australia.”
North Korea has been working for about a decade on its Taepodong-2 long-range missile, with a reported design range of 15,000km but its two known flight tests are believed to have failed.

In 2006, Mr Downer provoked some controversy when he asserted the Taepodong-2 was a threat to northern Australia.

“What is uncertain is the current state of development of the North Korean long range missile program,” Mr Rudd said today.

“What we do know is this country, having gone from nowhere in terms of nuclear capabilities a couple of decades ago has come a long way. And its a threat to all of us, including Australia.”

Author  | Source | Peter Alford in Nusa Dua
                            From: The Australian

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