By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) — President Yoon Suk Yeol issued a stern warning against North Korea on Tuesday, saying the regime will be brought to an end by the South Korea-U.S. alliance if it uses nuclear weapons.
Yoon made the remark during a speech marking the 75th Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated on Oct. 1 and commemorates the founding of the country’s armed forces.
“The North Korean regime must clearly realize that nuclear weapons will never be able to guarantee its security,” he said during a commemorative ceremony held at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of the capital, noting the regime has been upgrading its nuclear and missile capabilities in defiance of the international community’s warnings and “blatantly threatening” to use nuclear weapons.
“This constitutes an existential threat to our people and a grave challenge to world peace,” he continued. “Based on battle-ready combat capabilities and a solid readiness posture, our military will immediately retaliate against any North Korean provocation. If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the South Korea-U.S. alliance.”
Yoon also accused the North of human rights violations.
“The North Korean regime’s obsession with the development of nuclear weapons aggravates the North Korean people’s suffering,” he said. “It continues to exploit and oppress its people, and violate their human rights.”
Yoon said South Korea will further strengthen security cooperation with the United States and Japan based on its “ironclad” alliance with Washington, and establish a strong security posture by standing in close solidarity with its partner nations.
“On top of this, our people will never be deceived by the fake peace tricks of North Korea’s communist regime and its followers,” he said.
Yoon vowed to do all he can as commander-in-chief to build a strong military that instills fear in the enemy and trust in the people, saying, “We have learned from history that only a strong military can guarantee true peace.”
He referred to the Washington Declaration he adopted with U.S. President Joe Biden during their summit in April and the South Korea-U.S.-Japan cooperation framework established during a trilateral summit at Camp David last month. Both mechanisms, he said, will help strengthen deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear program.
Yoon also stressed the importance of developing cutting-edge defense technology, such as the AI-based Manned-Unmanned Teaming System, and space, cyber and electromagnetic weaponry.
“The government will double its support so that the defense industry — a future growth engine that is driving the cutting-edge industries — can contribute to national security and grow into a leading sector that drives economic progress,” Yoon said.
“Solid support will be provided to our soldiers in all areas, including wages, military supplies, meals, housing and medical care, to improve their combat capabilities,” he added.
A large-scale military parade is scheduled to take place in central Seoul later Tuesday as part of the commemorations, featuring some 4,000 troops and over 170 pieces of military equipment, including K2 battle tanks, the country’s new “high-power” missile, and attack drones, according to defense officials.
It will be the first such parade since 2013.
The country has usually held a military parade every five years in time for Armed Forces Day, but the preceding Moon Jae-in government skipped the event amid its push for inter-Korean reconciliation.
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