WHILE the world is watching President-elect Donald Trump and terror in Berlin, former prime minister Kevin Rudd says we're ignoring the huge threat in our own backyard.
When asked by ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales what the most pressing challenges in our region are, Mr Rudd's answer was straight to the point.
"I will give you three: North Korea, North Korea and North Korea," he told Sales.
"We're on a technical trajectory. It's to do with North Korean technical capabilities in terms of missile sophistication, missile range, the availability of nuclear material and the ability to militarise that into a warhead."
Mr Rudd said the issue was escalating "on a very rapid timescale".
"Therefore, the number one priority in terms of US-China relations, leaving everything to one
side, is to reach agreement strategically between the President of China and the President-Elect of the US into how this can be arrested."
Failing to do that, Mr Rudd said forebodingly: "The alternatives are too horrible to talk about."
When Sales asked about what his contacts were making "of the belligerence that Donald Trump is displaying towards China", the former prime minister chuckled.
"It's a varied feast ... I think the challenge for the period ahead is for a channel to be opened up as early as possible between the two administrations so the parameters can be set for One China, for North Korea, which is this railway train, this sort of freight train rolling down the tracks towards us in terms of its nuclear weapons program " he said.
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