Australia to Back America under ANZUS Treaty if North Korea Attacks, Turnbull Vows

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts during an address to the media at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, 30 July 2017. Photo: Sam Mooy/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Australia’s leader has promised to invoke the ANZUS treaty to come to America’s aid if the latter comes under attack by North Korea.
  • His declaration has come after speaking with US Vice President Mike Pence – even though it is unknown if Pence sought any military aid from Australia.
  • US and Australia are ‘joined at the hip’ when it comes to security, Turnbull has stated.
  • He has rejected calls for establishing a THAAD-type missile defense in Australia by noting it is not designed to stop intercontinental missiles.
  • Australia’s Greens have stated the North Korean issue best demonstrates why Australia needs to ‘ditch’ its alliance with America.

If North Korea launches an attack against the United States, Australia is going to invoke the ANZUS Treaty, and come to the aid of the US, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared.

The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) is a collective security agreement to cooperate militarily in the Pacific region signed in 1951.

A day before Turnbull’s declaration, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said there was no “automatic trigger” for Australia to join a war between the US and North Korea since Australia was not a party to the armistice declared at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

She said the ANZUS Treaty only required Australia and the US to “consult” with each other, if either country was threatened or attacked.

China has just called upon both the United States and North Korea to refrain from spiking tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid the fiery rhetoric now coming from both sides, with US President Donald Trump’s increasing participation.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump vowed an even tougher stance against the regime of North Korea, saying that his “fire and fury” comment made earlier this week was probably not tough enough.

Before that, however, North Korea’s military announced it was working on a plan to “contain” the US air, naval, and missile bases on the Pacific island of Guam by firing four intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBMs) to “envelop” it.

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently declared the United Stated was prepared to wage a “preventive war” against North Korea if that was to be deemed necessary – although the current deployment of the US aircraft carriers does not seem to bode a military operation.

North Korea’s military has reacted angrily by stating its preparedness to “contain” the US bases on the Pacific island of Guam with missile strikes.

On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis just warned the regime of Kim Jong-un not to invite its own destruction, while earlier this week US President Donald Trump threatened that the North Korean regime will face “fire and fury” if it kept posing as a menace to America.

At the end of July, North Korea test-fired an improved intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a Hwasong-14, that could strike the US mainland, purportedly, as far east as Chicago.

That was the second missile alleged to be an ICBM to be tested by the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after on July 4, it carried out a ballistic missile test, and claimed that the rocket was the much coveted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

A handout photo made available by the United States Department of State (DOS) on 06 June 2017 shows US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) shaking hands with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop looks on while posing for a photo at the dinner for the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2017 annual meeting at the Kiribilli House in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 05 June 2017. Photo: US State Dept handout/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

‘Joined at the Hip’

If North Korea attacks the United States, Australia will invoke the ANZUS Treaty and stand support its ally, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared on Friday, as cited by Australian service ABC News.

“America stands by its allies, including Australia of course, and we stand by the United States,” Turnbull told 3AW.

“So be very, very clear on that. If there’s 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,” the Australian leader said.

Turnbull discussed North Korea’s behavior with US Vice-President Mike Pence overnight, calling it “the most dangerous flashpoint in the world today”.

He did not reveal, however, if Pence had sought any specific assurances of military aid from Australia.

Nonetheless, the Australian Prime Minister said the terms of the Australia-US alliance were clear.

“But be under no misapprehension, in terms of defense, we are joined at the hip,” he said.

“The American alliance is the absolute bedrock of our national security. If there is an attack on the US … we would come to their aid,” Turnbull emphasized.

“Now, how that manifests itself obviously will depend on the circumstances and the consultations with our allies,” he elaborated.

Australian Prime Minister reiterated the same point later in the day after receiving a briefing on North Korea from military and intelligence officials in Canberra.

“Once again, we call on the North Korean regime to stop its illegal, reckless, provocative conduct which is putting the peace and the stability of the region at risk,” he said.

Turnbull said Australia and the US both still believed tough new sanctions on North Korea could force the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“[The Vice-President’s] view and the view of the administration is that the way to resolve the situation with North Korea … is through these economic sanctions. That’s the preferred way to deal with it,” he said.

“But of course if North Korea decides to carry out some of its violent threats then obviously terrible consequences will follow, and there’s no point ducking that inevitable consequence,” Turnbull added.


The Australian Prime Minister, however, rejected calls for Australia to develop its own missile shield – such as the US THAAD shield already installed in South Korea.

Because of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the country’s prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have separately called for Australia to consider developing a shield which could provide protection from intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Yet, Turnbull said the country’s Defense Department did not believe a THAAD missile defense system was suited to Australia.

“THAAD is designed to provide protection for relatively small areas against short-to-medium-range missiles, so it’s deployed in Israel, it’s deployed in South Korea,” he said.

“It’s not designed to provide protection against long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles of the sort North Korea has recently tested,” he concluded.

‘Ditch the US Alliance’

Australia’s Greens have reacted angrily to the Prime Minister’s comments by accusing him of inflaming tensions in the region.

“Malcolm Turnbull by backing Donald Trump has just put a target on our back,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said.

“What we’ve got is two dangerous, paranoid and unhinged world leaders goading each other into a conflict which puts the very survival of each and every person on the planet at risk,” she added.

“If there was ever a clearer example of why Australia needs to ditch the US alliance and develop an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, this is it,” Di Natale argued.

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