Australia’s eyes and ears in Washington says a more aggressive approach to North Korea may be needed, warning against “tickling the tummy” of Kim Jong-un.
In an unusually frank assessment for a senior diplomat, Joe Hockey has sounded the alarm about Pyongyang’s weapons development program, suggesting Australian cities risk missile attack unless the regime is brought to heel.
“The biggest risk to world peace at the moment is North Korea and strategic patience just didn’t work,” Mr Hockey said.
“It has to come to a head.”
On a brief return trip to Australia from the elite military and diplomatic circles he moves in, the Australian ambassador to the United States warned, “Strategic patience is a failed policy”.
Mr Hockey told a forum in Canberra “crazy people” should not be allowed to have weapons that can cause enormous harm.
“So what do you do? Do you launch immediate kinetic activity, costing millions and millions of people their lives or do you find ways that might unsettle everyone to put a lot of pressure on China, which has 90 per cent of the trade with North Korea?”
The former federal treasurer used much stronger language than the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on the topic as he promoted an “unconventional” approach and strongly endorsed President Donald Trump’s behaviour and policies.
“Conventional, traditional channels are not working in certain areas … I’m not going to give an assessment of the potential for conflict on the Korean Peninsula, that’s not my job,” he said.
“But just rolling over and tickling the tummy of Kim Jong-un is not the answer, it’s just not.
“We’re a target, our cities are targets, our people are targets. This guy is unhinged and we’ve got to protect our people, as the United States has to protect its people.”
Washington ‘very concerned’ by foreign donations
Mr Hockey said he had been repeatedly approached by US officials worried by reports China is trying to influence current and former Australian politicians through donations.
The Federal Government has announced new laws to ban foreign donations and to make meddling in Australian politics on behalf of another nation a crime.
Mr Hockey said the situation was being watched “very closely” by the US administration.
“It’s about meddling with another country’s election and yes, it is treated very seriously,” he said.
“The Americans raise it with me all the time because it’s also directly related to any potential shift by their closest ally towards China.
“This is a serious issue as it represents a threat to what many Australians fought and died for and that’s a free and transparent, open democracy.”