Days after U.S. researchers announced suspicions of a deadly new addition to North Korea's military arsenal, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop spoke with VOA for an exclusive interview about Pyongyang's current impact on regional politics.
Bishop says regardless of North Korea's current military objectives, her country is continuing to call on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons and provocative tactics.
"Nuclear tests and missile launches needlessly risk accidents or reprisal," Bishop said in a telephone interview with the VOA Korean Service Thursday, adding they also increase tensions in the region.
Earlier this week, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said it had identified a Russian-made cruise missile in a North Korean military propaganda video.
Bishop said her government has had "very serious concerns" about Kim Jong Un’s policies since he took office in late 2011, specifically regarding armament and human rights.
"It is a fact that no country [can] improve its economy or security by threatening its neighbors and by impoverishing its own people," she said.
Asked what she considers the gravest threat North Korea poses, Bishop answered said the development of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and ballistic missiles.
Earlier this year, Pyongyang warned of additional nuclear tests.
"Each nuclear test squanders huge sums of money and it’s the people of North Korea who bear the cost, and the cost of sanctions that inevitably follow," she said.
In talks with Chinese officials, Bishop said she encouraged Beijing counterpart Wang Yi to pressure Pyongyang "to take irreversible and verifiable steps towards denuclearization."
Bishop said the Chinese government is more cooperative with its regional partners than it was in the past regarding North Korea.