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North Korea risks 'self-destruction' with nuke policy: Seoul

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South Korea's defense ministry warned Tuesday that North Korea's new hardline nuclear policy would send it on a "path of self-destruction." File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
South Korea's defense ministry warned Tuesday that North Korea's new hardline nuclear policy would send it on a "path of self-destruction." File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- South Korean defense officials warned Tuesday that North Korea's new law establishing the right to use preemptive nuclear strikes would set Pyongyang on a "path of self-destruction."

"We warn that if North Korea attempts the use of nuclear weapons, it will face an overwhelming response from the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and the North Korean regime will be on a path of self-destruction," defense ministry spokesman Moon Hong-sik said at a press briefing.

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Pyongyang announced a new law Friday that officially declared the secretive regime a nuclear weapons state and gave it the right to automatically launch nuclear strikes to protect itself.

In a policy speech Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that the country would "never give up" its nuclear weapons.

RELATED North Korea passes law declaring itself a 'nuclear state,' says it will never give up nukes

"There will never be such a thing as our abandonment of the nuclear weapons or denuclearization first, nor will there be any negotiations to this end or bargaining chip in these processes," he said, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Seoul's defense ministry said that the hardline stance would backfire for Pyongyang.

"The measures taken by North Korea will further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, lead to isolation from the international community and exacerbate the suffering of the North Korean people," Moon said.

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The sharp words came in the wake of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's offer last month of "audacious" economic assistance in exchange for the North dismantling its nuclear arsenal.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of Kim Jong Un, flatly rejected the proposal, calling it "the height of absurdity" and declaring Yoon "childish."

Yoon has generally taken a stronger stance against North Korea than his engagement-focused predecessor, former President Moon Jae-in. Under his administration, Seoul and Washington have ramped up military engagement, including a return to full-scale field exercises last month, which drew a furious reaction from Pyongyang.

RELATED U.S., Japan, South Korea reaffirm commitment to deter North Korea

North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests this year and experts say the secretive state appears poised for its seventh nuclear detonation at any time.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday that Washington remains "fully committed to the defense of [South Korea], using the full range of defense capabilities."

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