Australia 'would aid' US in event of North Korea attack

US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York in May Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull in New York in May

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has said his nation is prepared to join a conflict against North Korea if the United States comes under attack.

Pyongyang said on Wednesday it had a plan to fire four missiles near the US territory of Guam.

US President Donald Trump warned North Korea it should be "very, very nervous" if it does anything to the US.

Mr Turnbull said Australia would fulfil its obligations under the Anzus Treaty if an attack on the US took place.

"America stands by its allies, including Australia of course, and we stand by the United States," Mr Turnbull told local radio 3AW on Friday.

"So be very, very clear on that. If there is an attack on the US, the Anzus Treaty would be invoked and Australia would come to the aid of the United States, as America would come to our aid if we were attacked."

What is the Anzus Treaty?

  • It is a security agreement signed by Australia, New Zealand and the US in 1951.
  • The treaty is designed to act as a deterrent against aggression from other nations.
  • Under the agreement, signatories are compelled to "consult" and "act to meet the common danger" if one is attacked.
  • However, experts have said its precise application could be open to interpretation.
  • Australia has invoked the treaty just once, in 2001, when it joined US troops in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.
  • The US and New Zealand suspended obligations to each other in the 1980s.

Tensions between North Korea and the US have escalated in recent weeks after North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

Mr Turnbull described the US alliance as "the absolute bedrock of our national security".

"Now, how that manifests itself obviously will depend on the circumstances and the consultations with our allies," he said.

The prime minister said he had discussed North Korea with US Vice-President Mike Pence in an overnight phone call.

However, he would not say if the pair had spoken about the prospect of Australian assistance.

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