South Korea vowed to respond immediately to any potential provocations from North Korea as thousands of troops gathered in the South Korean capital Seoul on Tuesday for a military parade to mark Armed Forces Day.
“Based on combat-ready combat capabilities and a firm posture of readiness, our military will immediately retaliate against any North Korean provocation,” South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol said at a ceremony marking the country’s 75th Armed Forces Day.
He added: “If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be ended with an overwhelming response.”
The show of force, the country’s first military parade in 10 years, comes as North Korea and Russia have recently strengthened ties as the North seeks a nuclear arsenal and Moscow looks to replenish conventional weapons depleted by the war with Ukraine.
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Yun said Seoul is trying to build “a strong military that instills fear in the enemy.”
Tuesday’s military parade featured about 4,600 South Korean troops, accompanied by more than 300 US combat troops, marching through the streets of Seoul. They were flanked by tanks, missiles and other weapons in a display of military preparedness and preparedness.
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South Korea last held a massive military parade in 2013.
Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin and military leaders. He also visited key military sites.
Pyongyang is reportedly seeking Russian technologies to help develop spy satellites, nuclear submarines and long-range ballistic missiles.
Experts have said such weapons would pose a significant security threat to neighboring South Korea as well as the rest of the world, including the US
Yun did not mention North Korea-Russia ties in his speech on Tuesday.
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During a speech at the UN General Assembly last week, however, he said South Korea “will not stand idly by” if North Korea and Russia agree to such arms deals in violation of Security Council resolutions. UN banning all arms trade with North Korea.
U.S. officials also said North Korea and Russia would face consequences if they went ahead with a deal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.