Julie Bishop reveals 'unprecedented' letter from North Korea

North Korea has taken the unprecedented step of writing to the Australian Parliament in a blistering letter that demonises US President Donald Trump and which offers Australia "assurances of its highest consideration".

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who revealed the existence of the "unprecedented" letter to Fairfax Media on Thursday, said the missive was a clear sign international diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear program and repeated tests of inter-continental ballistic missiles was beginning to work.

The letter was written by the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly and sent via North Korea's embassy in Jakarta to Australia's Indonesian embassy on September 28. From there, it made its way to Ms Bishop a week later.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia and other Western allies, warning last week after Ms Bishop's visit to South Korea that Australia would face "disaster" if it continued to "follow the US in imposing military, economic and diplomatic pressure upon the DPRK".

The letter criticised Mr Trump's fiery warning in a speech to the UN in September that his nation could "totally destroy" North Korea and states that "if Trump thinks he would bring the DPRK, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it will be a big miscalculation" as "the DPRK has emerged as a fully fledged nuclear power".

The letter urges the parliaments of different countries - it has apparently been sent to other nations - that want peace to "discharge their due mission and duty in realising the desire of mankind for international justice and peace with sharp vigilance against the heinous and reckless moves of the Trump administration".

Ms Bishop said it was unusual for the Foreign Affairs committee, rather than state news agency KCNA, to be used to communicate with Australia.

"This is the first letter that we can find that any Australian foreign minister has received from North Korea...it's an open letter, this is not how they usually send messages around the world," she said.

"I read this as showing that the collective strategy of allies and partners to impose maximum pressure and diplomatic and economic sanctions on North korea is working; this is a very unusual step of issuing an open letter of this character.

"Those two UN Security Council resolutions, which were embraced by China and Russia, impose for the first time sector-wide comprehensive sanctions against DPRK. And most of those sanctions have to be implemented by China. So I think that this shows they are feeling desperate, feeling isolated, trying to demonise the US, trying to divide the international community."

Ms Bishop said the Trump administration had been much more proactive in making robust threats against North Korea and "that has changed China's calculations".

At the same time, Australia had been making the case to Beijing that if North Korea defied the Security Council then that undermined China's status as a P5 member, and as a regional and burgeoning global power.

Lowy Institute director of International Security Euan Graham said it was reasonable to assume that, with the letter, "they are trying to pick off allies, that's why Australia would be on the list" of parliaments that had received the letter.

"This is effectively an invitation to have high level access, to send an [Australian] delegation from Seoul," he said.

"Now would be a good time for Australia to exercise its still existing, even if on-off, diplomatic relations with the North."

Dr Graham suggested that such a delegation should include a former senior high-level military person, to signal to the North how seriously Australia takes the issue and to demonstrate Australia's independence.

Australia maintains low-level diplomatic relations with North Korea, but has not had an embassy in Pyongyang since 1974, while North Korea closed its embassy in Canberra in 2008.

The last two applications to send Australian diplomats from Seoul have been refused, Dr Graham said.

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This story Julie Bishop reveals 'unprecedented' letter from North Korea first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.