The Korea Herald

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S. Korea warns NK: Nuclear threats risk regime's end

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : July 21, 2023 - 12:19

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President Yoon Suk Yeol looks through the periscope while inspecting the inside of the USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that arrived at Busan on Wednesday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol looks through the periscope while inspecting the inside of the USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that arrived at Busan on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean Defense Ministry issued a stern warning against North Korea on Friday in response to the regime's threat to use nuclear weapons prompted by the US deploying a strategic nuclear submarine in Busan.

In a statement, the ministry criticized North Korea for misrepresenting and criticizing the purpose of the Nuclear Consultative Group between South Korea and the United States, along with the US submarine's presence in South Korea.

The statement said that the deployment of the submarine and the holding of the Nuclear Consultative Group meeting are not indicative of plans to use nuclear weapons against North Korea. These actions instead represent “a defensive response” to North Korea's ongoing nuclear and missile threats.

The ministry firmly warned that any nuclear attack by North Korea on the South Korea-US alliance would be met with an “immediate and decisive” response, which could potentially “end” the North Korean regime.

The statement came after North Korea's state media, Korean Central News Agency, citing the country's Defense Minister Kang Sun-nam, reported that the deployment of US missile submarines in Busan could justify North Korea's use of nuclear weapons.

"The ever-increasing visibility of the deployment of the strategic nuclear submarine and other strategic assets may fall under the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons specified in the DPRK law," said the KCNA statement.

DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The phase of a military clash on the Korean peninsula has surfaced as a dangerous reality," the KCNA report said.

The provocation came to a head when North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles from Sunan, Pyongyang, toward the East Sea on Wednesday. The event occurred a day after the inaugural meeting of the Nuclear Consultative Group and the US submarine's docking in Busan. The missiles traveled a distance of about 550 kilometers, almost the exact distance from Sunan to Busan Port.