South Korea Warns Kim His Regime Would End If It Uses Nukes

(Bloomberg) — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol warned North Korea its regime would be ended by Seoul and Washington if it used nuclear weapons, in a speech marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of his country’s military.

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Yoon celebrated the long-standing alliance with the US to mark Armed Forces Day and agreements he reached with President Joe Biden to strengthen consultations on the deployment of American nuclear assets to the region to deter Kim Jong Un from trying at launch a strike.

“If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the ROK-US alliance,” Yoon said Tuesday, referring to his country by its formal name. He also slammed Pyongyang for its pursuit of atomic arms, saying its people are paying the price.

“The North Korean regime’s obsession with the development of nuclear weapons aggravates the North Korean people’s suffering,” Yoon said. “The North Korean regime must clearly realize that nuclear weapons will never be able to guarantee its security.”

South Korea is holding its first military parade in a decade in Seoul that features thousands of troops and its latest military hardware such as domestically made long-range surface-to-air missiles. KF-21 fighter jets, next-generation light-armed helicopters that were supposed to be featured at an airshow beforehand, were grounded due to bad weather.

The parade begins in the afternoon in the streets of a central Seoul area that has been home to massive protests and gatherings of hundreds of thousands to watch events such as World Cup soccer on big screen video monitors.

The event will include displays of drones from a newly established unmanned aerial vehicle command and will highlight the country’s 70-year military alliance with the US.

Festivities at the airbase in the morning were expected to be attended by more than 10,000 people, including veterans of the 1950-1953 Korean War from 19 different countries and their families.

South Korea has held a parade every five years to mark its Armed Forces Day but it was not conducted under then President Moon Jae-in in 2018 as he sought rapprochement with North Korea. Pyongyang, for its part, has held several parades under Kim Jong Un, showing off its latest nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike South Korea and deliver warheads to the US mainland.

Biden was dealt a stronger hand in Asia when Yoon became South Korea’s president more than a year ago, backing hawkish security policies that brought Seoul closer to Tokyo while looking to diminish bickering between the neighbors.

Read: North Korean Nuclear Attack Would End Kim Regime, Biden Says

When Biden met Yoon at the White House in April, the US leader said a North Korean nuclear attack on the US and its allies would be the end of Kim’s regime as he announced new efforts with South Korea to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear buildup.

North Korea has denounced Yoon as a “puppet traitor” and stepped up its provocations in displays of anger at joint military drills between the US and South Korea.

–With assistance from Shinhye Kang and Brian Fowler.

(Updates with a write through following Yoon’s speech)

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