SEOUL, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- South Korea's Defense Ministry has crossed out its definition of North Korea as an enemy in the 2018 defense white paper, released on Tuesday.
For the South Korean military, North Korea has long been an enemy whose nuclear weapons and missiles pose major threats to the security of the country.
However, the 2018 defense white paper describes "enemy" in a broader term that includes "any potential or transnational and nonmilitary threats," according to the Defense Ministry.
The toned down statement came in light of the fast-improving relationship between North and South Korea after three summits between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last year.
The two leaders agreed to take steps to ease military tension, such as closing front-line guard posts on the border.
"The tensions on the Korean Peninsula surged after North Korea conducted its 6th nuclear test in 2017, but a new security environment is shaping with the (South Korean) government's effort for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and settlement for peace," the white paper said.
The 2016 version states that North Korea's nuclear weapons, cyberattacks and terrorism pose major threats to South Korea's security and the regime remains an "enemy insofar as they are the agents carrying out these threats."
South Korea publishes a defense white paper every other year.
The Defense Ministry has listed North Korea an enemy since 2010, when North Korea attacked the South's westernmost border island of Yeonpyeong. North Korea fired artillery shells and rockets to the island, killing four and injuring 19.
The 2018 defense white paper features updated military information on North Korea, and says the North has recently created a special forces team in charge of assassination missions.
The ministry also estimates North Korea has some 50 kilograms of plutonium -- enough to create nuclear weapons through reprocessing spent fuel rods from nuclear plants. It also has a considerable amount of enriched uranium and is capable of reducing the size of nuclear weapons.
Bloomberg reported Monday North Korea continues to develop its nuclear weapons and missiles, despite a pledge by Kim to denuclearize, based on its analysis on satellite imagery and intelligence information.
Last week, the United States Forces Japan released a video, in which it defines North Korea as one of the "three declared nuclear states" in the Northeast Asian region, along with Russia and China. The video says North Korea has 15 nuclear weapons.