North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over 'toeing the line' with U.S.

North Korea has launched into a war of words against Australia over the country's alliance with the U.S., warning the country is within striking range of a nuclear weapon.

A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry accused Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop of spouting "a string of rubbish against the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)" over the country's missile testing, adding "Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line."

In Japan last week, Bishop said Australia supported the "United States' approach that all options be on the table with regard to curbing North Korea's illegal and belligerent behavior" and mooted the idea of further sanctions.

Bishop's comments prompted the North Korean foreign ministry to launch a direct attack, which was broadcast on the Korean Central News Agency on Friday: "What she uttered can never be pardoned as it is an act against peace that patronizes and shields the U.S. extreme hostile policy toward the DPRK."

"If Australia persists in following the U.S. moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the U.S. master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK. The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the U.S."

Unfettered Bishop issued a statement Sunday saying North Korea should concentrate on its "long-suffering citizens, rather than building catastrophic weapons: "North Korea's threats of nuclear strikes against other nations further underlines the need for the regime to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs," she said.

"These present a grave threat to its neighbors and if left unchecked, to the broader region including Australia. The North Korean government should invest in the welfare of its long-suffering citizens, rather than weapons of mass destruction."

The posturing comes as Vice President Mike Pence spends his final day of a visit to Australia on Sunday taking part in tourist activities in Sydney.