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North Korea's ballistic missiles could hit Australia, foreign minister Julie Bishop warns

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 27/03/2017 Sarah Kimmorley

© Provided by Business Insider Inc North Korea has developed ballistic missile technology capable of reaching Australia, according to Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop.

During a visit to South Korea last month, Bishop spoke with US General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of UN and US forces in the country, who told her about the new security risk to both Australia and the US.

Bishop said it was the first time that she has heard about the threat "in such stark terms".

“The assessment was that North Korea ... was now at a point of advanced technology when it came to ballistic missiles that were capable of carrying a single nuclear warhead, that it was an increasing security risk not only to the Korean peninsula but also to our region, including Australia,” Bishop told The Australian.

“It is deeply concerning that North Korea has been able to take the opportunity to advance its capability.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea © AP Photo/Wong Maye-E North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea The range of any missile would need to be at least 7,000km to reach Cairns, 6557km from Pyongyang. A strike on Sydney, ­Melbourne and Adelaide, would require a range of 9,000km.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches in defiance of UN resolutions.

Earlier in the month US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a military response would be "on the table" if the North took action to threaten South Korean and US forces.

This map from the 2016 index of US military strength, shows the reach of North Korea's missiles.

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