Australia, New Zealand slam North Korea after it threatens nuclear strike

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SYDNEY Australia and New Zealand stiffened their rhetoric against North Korea yesterday after the isolated state threatened Canberra with a nuclear strike, urging it to think twice before "blindly and zealously toeing the US line".

The move comes as the United States Vice-President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia - partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test.

"If Australia persists in following the US' moves to isolate and stifle North Korea... this will be a suicidal act," a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the hermit state a "serious threat".

The spokesman, speaking to the North's official KCNA news agency, warned Ms Bishop to "think twice about the consequences".

Australia's close ally New Zealand has since accused North Korea of having "evil intent".

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told Television New Zealand yesterday that people knew little about Mr Kim Jong Un's regime but "you would assume that underneath him there is a very big machinery of people who have equally evil intent".

"It's North Korea that is sending the missiles into the Sea of Japan and making the various outrageous threats." - AFP

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