Australia sends warship to police North Korea
AN Australian warship on exercise in Asia has been immediately re-tasked to waters off the coast of North Korea to support United Nations Security Council-imposed sanctions against the rogue state.
The move came as North Korea warned of "undesirable consequences" over the US seizing one of its sanction-breaking cargo ships that a court yesterday ruled the Americans can keep.
It also comes as the UN discusses concerns over North Korea's underwater-launched ballistic missiles.
Frigate HMAS Parramatta is on high-end warfare exercises about Japan when it was ordered last night to support international efforts to police illicit trade and suspect shipping moving about North Korea.
The re-tasking follows a similar "deter and disrupt" operation against North Korea by HMAS Melbourne earlier this year and the deployment of an Australia P8-A Poseidon spy plane.
"HMAS Parramatta will work alongside our international partners to monitor and deter ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods," Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said yesterday.
"This deployment reflects Australia's ongoing commitment to maintain pressure on North Korea to take concrete, verifiable and irreversible steps towards denuclearisation."
Other maritime partners currently in the region include Japan and the United States.
HMAS Parramatta is currently on an East Asia Deployment with HMAS Stuart and HMAS Hobart to link with other warships in the largest RAN deployment of the year.
Her re-tasking now, to last at least a fortnight, comes as the US was awarded ownership of North Korea's largest cargo ship, the Wise Honest.
The ship, which had been caught trafficking thousands of tons of North Korean coal worth millions of dollars in exchange for heavy machinery, was the first DPRK cargo vessel to be seized for international sanctions violations.
It was intercepted and seized in April last year off Indonesia waters.
North Korea Pyongyang has formally protested the seizure and warned of "undesirable consequences" if it was not returned.
The deployment also comes days after Japan has accused South Korea of regularly violating UN sanctions against North Korea which is related to its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to escalate missile testing to which the US promised to push harsher measures. In a recent announcement, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), declared Kim would plan "a great operation to strike the world with wonder again."