Government - Oz 'Joined At Hip' With US, NZ Not So Sure
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia will stand alongside the US in war if for some reason North Korea attacks. New Zealand is taking a different approach.
"In terms of defence, we are joined at the hip," said Mr. Turnbull on 3AW radio. "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 1951 military treaty provides for the common defense of the Pacific Ocean region. Signatories agree to "consult together" and "act to meet the common danger".
New Zealand is still a party to the three-way treaty. But out neighbors haven't been directly linked to the US since the 1980s because of the dispute over US nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered ships.
Tensions between the US and North Korea have been there for decades, but threatened to boil over this week after the Washington Post reported on a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment saying North Korean scientists have figured out how to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and fit one in an ICBM. Other US intelligence agencies didn't believe the North Koreans were that capable just yet.
Totally coincidentally, other reports said Trump's approval ratings were cratering, and the FBI had raided the home of Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort seeking documents related to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf.
With these stories bubbling over in the US, Donald Trump shocked his cabinet by interrupting a routine photo-op in his golfing vacation to vow "fire and fury" on North Korea if it threatened to attack America, like it has every other week since the early 1950s. Pyongyang then threatened US military installations on Guam.
NZ Prime Minister Bill English said Trump's bombast was "not helpful in an environment that is very tense" and were "more likely to escalate rather than settle things" with the situation.
And then, just as members of the administration were starting to dial back Trump's comments, he undercut them a second time. Trump said he hadn't gone far enough and said North Koreans should be "very, very nervous".
Mr. English says New Zealand's military support for the US at this stage is hypothetical. He's still focused on a "peaceful resolution" of nuclear threats between the two nations.