Photo: North Korea earlier demonstrated its fire power with a live-fire drill to mark the 85th founding anniversary of its military. (Yonhap News Agency)
North Korea: Former Army chief warns Malcolm Turnbull against 'bloody ugly' war with Kim Jong-un
By Stephanie Dalzell and political reporter Caitlyn Gribbin
12 Aug 2017,
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
Former Army chief Peter Leahy has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consult Parliament before joining the US in a "bloody ugly" war against North Korea.
US President Donald Trump says the US military is "locked and loaded" to respond to any attack by Kim Jong-un's forces, and Mr Turnbull has confirmed Australia would back the United States in any confrontation with the isolated nation.
But Professor Leahy urged restraint, saying "we need to do a lot of talking ... [and] play as much as we can behind the scenes to stop this thing getting out of control".
"I think we need to perhaps take a deep breath and ... run as quickly and as hard as we can down the diplomatic and the economic options, because it's a pretty horrid thought to think that in the space of just a few days — a week or more — we could be at war," he said.
"It's going to look bloody ugly.
"I think it would move very quickly to an exchange of artillery. We know the North Koreans have artillery close up against the demilitarisation zone in range of Seoul.
"We're not talking about a few guns, we're talking about tens of thousands of guns, and stockpiled artillery.
"So they'd be able to inflict, very quickly on Seoul, massive damage."
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Professor Leahy said the ANZUS treaty — signed during the Cold War — did not guarantee Australia's commitment.
"There's a discussion in the US about the War Powers Act — how far can the President go committing troops to war — and it's the same, how far can the PM go committing our troops to war," he said.
Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos defended Mr Turnbull's comments, saying consultation would occur.
"The point the Prime Minister was making, was under the ANZUS treaty we would consult, as we're obliged to do, and work out from there what should happen," he told Lateline.
"It should come as no surprise to anybody we would work very closely with the United States on this, it's potentially a major conflict in our own region, our major partners in the region such as Japan and South Korea would be embroiled in this.
"But at the moment, the whole emphasis is on avoiding the need for a conflict, and that would happen if the North Korean regime deescalated the tensions on the peninsula."