South Korea on Friday warned that North Korea will face the "end" of its regime in the event of a nuclear attack after it said the deployment of a U.S. nuclear-capable submarine and other strategic assets here could meet the conditions for its use of nuclear arms.
The Defence Ministry in Seoul renewed the warning after Pyongyang's Defence Minister Kang Sun-nam slammed the arrival of the USS Kentucky, an 18,750-tonne Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), in South Korea and the inaugural meeting of the South Korea-US Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) this week, reports Yonhap News Agency.
"In the event of any North Korean nuclear attack against the South Korea-U. alliance, it will face an immediate, overwhelming and decisive response from the alliance, and (we) strongly warn again that through this, (the attack) will result in the end of the North Korean regime," the Ministry said in a statement.
The USS Kentucky arrived in the southeastern port city of Busan on Tuesday.
Its arrival coincided with the first NCG session aimed at strengthening the credibility of the US' extended deterrence commitment to using the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend its ally.
The Ministry defended the NCG gathering and the SSBN's deployment as a "rightful" defensive measure against North Korea's continued nuclear and missile threats, dismissing the North's claim that they posed a nuclear threat to the recalcitrant country.
It also said Pyongyang's nuclear program and missile provocations are "clear" violations of UN Security Council resolutions and "illicit activities", noting the country is the "only" one that repeats threats of a nuclear attack against the South Korea-US alliance.
"North Korea will never gain any concessions from the South Korea-US alliance through its nuclear development and threats, and (we) urge it to recognise its isolation and destitution will only deepen, and to come out swiftly to the path of denuclearisation," it said.
The first US SSBN's visit to the South since 1981 came after the .S pledged to enhance the "regular visibility" of its high-profile military assets, including the strategic submarine, in the Washington Declaration that Presidents Yoon Suk Yeol and Joe Biden issued during their summit in April.
Tensions have heightened as Pyongyang has continued its saber-rattling, such as its launches of an inter-continental ballistic missile on July 12 and two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday.