Clark, PAMPANGA -- The Philippines and Australia have echoed the statements of other countries that have tagged North Korea's program on weapons development and testing as illegal and in violation of international laws.

“This North Korean program of weapons development and testing is illegal, it is provocative, it is in breach of several United Nations Security Council resolutions, (it) is in breach of global agreements and international norms,” Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said during a press briefing at the 4th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) - Plus held here Tuesday.

Payne noted that different countries should let North Korea know that what it is doing is unlawful.

“We, as an international community need to make it very clear that their (North Korea) behavior is illegal, it is destabilizing and it is provocative,” the Australian official added.

For his part, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the issue at the Korean Peninsula concerns ASEAN as a whole.

"Not only the Philippines, but the whole ASEAN (is) already concerned about the dangerous, the provocative behavior of North Korea and I agree with Minister Payne that the action of North Korea is illegal,” he said. “The ASEAN, the ADMM has a joint declaration and we included a part on North Korea's behavior, sanctioning (its) behavior and reminding North Korea to follow the United Nations resolutions.”

Lorenzana further said that aside from the growing security concerns in the Korean Peninsula, he also discussed with the Australian official various programs and activities aimed at strengthening the two countries’ defense cooperation.

These include the possibility of visiting combat training facilities in Australia for some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, facilitating information sharing, maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and finalizing mutual agreements between the two nations.

The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN Defense Ministers to engage their counterparts from the Plus countries, namely: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and United States. (PNA)