Malcolm Turnbull told 3AW last week that Australia and the US were joined at the hip on defense matters, and “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.
Citing an unnamed official from the North Korean foreign ministry, the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, said Australian Prime Minister’s show of support for Washington, coupled with the country's troops participation in the military drills, had left the country open to unspecified “counter-measures of justice” by North Korea.
"This is a suicidal act of inviting disaster, as it is an illustration of political immaturity, unaware of the seriousness of the current situation,” KCNA said.
In response to South Korea's threat, the Turnbull hit back on Monday night, issuing a statement saying: “North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbors and no regard for international law.”
The prime minister said Australia called 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."
While the agency has relayed a series of threats against the US – specifically the Pacific territory of Guam – in recent weeks, this is the first time that Pyongyang has singled out the Australian government for criticism.
The ministry official accused Turnbull of abandoning his opposition to Donald Trump’s confrontational stance towards Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile program, and reminded him that Australia had paid a high price for its involvement in previous US wars, according to KCNA.
"Australia followed the US 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 said.
"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 US in the moves for nuclear war.”
The report was issued on the eve of Ulchi Freedom Guardian – 11 days of military exercises involving tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops and a smaller number from other countries, including Britain and Australia.
Two dozen Australian defence personnel are taking part in the annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, which involves more than 17,000 American troops along with small contingents from a handful of other countries.
While the exercises will mainly revolve around computer-simulated war games, North Korea has described them as highly provocative, claiming that they are a rehearsal for invasion.