Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for continued efforts to "bring North Korea to its senses" after the regime warned Australia was "inviting disaster" through its support of US war games in the Pacific.
Around 25 Australian defence personnel are taking part in the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, a large-scale simulated military operation staged regularly by US and South Korean military forces. The operation started yesterday.
North Korea has noted Australia's involvement and Turnbull's recent statement that the nation would "come to the aid" of the US under the provisions of the ANZUS treaty if there was a military confrontation with North Korea.
A spokesman for the regime's foreign affairs ministry said Australia and other allies could not "avoid counter-measures of justice" from North Korea if they supported the US in a conflict.
The statement said Turnbull had made "reckless remarks that the allies including Australia were together with the U.S. and that ANZUS stood for the mutual defense between the U.S and Australia, should either one of them come under attack, and Australia would back the U.S. in time of emergency.
"Not long after the Australian prime minister had stated that they would join in the aggressive moves of the U.S., even referring to ANZUS which exists in name only, the Australian military announced that they would dispatch their troops to the aggressive nuclear exercises of the U.S.," the statement said.
"This is a suicidal act of inviting disaster as it is an illustration of political immaturity unaware of the seriousness of the current situation."
According to a report in The Diplomat, South Korean officials have said this year's Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises will include “a nuclear war game for the first time.”
The exercises may feature simulated use of "counter-weapons-of-mass-destructions (CWMD) operations and sustaining allied maneuvers in the aftermath of a North Korean nuclear attack against core U.S.-South Korea command-and-control nodes", The Diplomat reported.
Some 50,000 South Korean troops and around 17,500 US military personnel will take part in the exercise, which also involves vast numbers of South Korean government officials.
In response, Turnbull issued a statement saying North Korea had shown no regard for the welfare of its people and no regard for international law.
“We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and dangerous threats to the peace of our region and the world.”
The North Korean statement said that "Australia followed the U.S. to the Korean War, the Vietnamese War and the “war on terrorism”, but heavy loss of lives and assets were all that it got in return."
It added: "The Australian government had better devote time and energy to maintaining peace of its own country, instead of forgetting the lessons learned in the past and joining the U.S. in the moves for nuclear war. Countries like Australia that join the military adventure against the DPRK, blindly following the U.S., will never avoid the counter-measures of justice by the DPRK."