Despite the recent thaw on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea hasn’t abandoned its plans to possess a nuclear deterrent.
The use of a nuclear weapon by Pyongyang against South Korea or the US will be “suicidal” for the country, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
“The North Korean regime will probably be removed from the map if it uses developed nuclear weapons against South Korea or the United States,” Song Young-moo said at a security forum in Singapore.
“It’s an anachronistic idea that North Korea will use nuclear weapons for the unification (of the two Koreas),” the top official said, adding that Kim Jong-un’s threats of a nuclear strike were nothing, but “propaganda” and no action would follow it.
At the same time, Young-moo supported the current position of South Korea aimed at improving relations with the North via dialogue.
“It may be a rough path, which could take a long time. But I think we have to go that way by being patient,” the minister noted.
The South Korean defense chief delivered his speech just days after his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Hawaii, where both parties reaffirmed their cooperation to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, adding that “any efforts to drive a wedge between the U.S.-ROK (South Korea) alliance would fail.”
The meeting of the top officials, as well as the security forum, were held amid a slight de-escalation on the peninsula, following Kim Jong-un’s order to restore the hotline with the North’s southern neighbor ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Relations between the international community and North Korea had been strained throughout the past year, with the latter having carried out a number of nuclear and missile tests that were met by a number of sanctions, imposed by the UN Security Council.