NORTH KOREA has called Australia “riff-raff” and accused it of being a US “puppet” after its alleged attempt to derail peace negotiations by sending a warship to the Korean peninsula to enforce sanctions.
Newspaper The Rodong Sinmum criticised Australia in an angry editorial on Thursday. The news outlet is considered a mouthpiece of the ruling Kim regime.
Australia announced earlier this month it would be sending the missile frigate the HMAS Melbourne, along with two AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, as part of a multinational operation to enforce trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
The editorial attacked this decision saying Australia was seeking to destroy the “hard-won peaceful atmosphere of the Korean peninsula and the region.”
“If Australia is interested in the regional situation even a bit, it should behave itself,” the article said.
“In case the affirmative atmosphere created on the Korean peninsula is wrecked owing to the riffs-raffs such as Australia, they must be held wholly accountable for it.”
Australia had “not abandoned its force of habit as a puppet,” it added.
Australia is working alongside Japan, the US, Canada and South Korea to the strictest sanctions ever imposed on Pyongyang.
Relations on the Korean peninsula have warmed following three summits between North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in. Earlier in the week, the pair authorised the removal of weapons and guards from the border.
They have begun removing mines and other explosive devices inside the heavily armed demilitarised zone that separates the two countries. It was also reported on Thursday that they will allow a small number of tourists to cross the demarcation line for the first time in over 60 years.
Despite this, US President Donald Trump has urged allies to maintain pressure on the North to keep the regime at the negotiating table over its nuclear programme.
North Korea has railed against the measures, saying on Friday the increased pressure on Pyongyang damages the relationship.
“We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good. They are not at all confidence-building measures, but confidence-destroying measures,” Song Il Hyok, deputy director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace, told reporters at the Xiangshan Security Forum in Beijing.
North Korea has continued to flaunt sanctions. The Australian and allied forces were deployed last month to detect and disrupt illicit ship-to-ship transfers to North Korean tankers in the East China Sea.
In August, the US Treasury Department sanctioned two Russia-based shipping companies and six vessels for involvement in banned ship-to-ship oil product transfers to North Korea.