South Korea is planning to create a special military unit in 2017 to eliminate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and his military leadership if the country launches any nuclear attack on the South. The move will be part of broader defence measures against increasing threats from the reclusive state, South Korean defence chief said on Wednesday (4 January).

"We are planning to set up a special brigade with the goal of removing or (at least) paralysing North Korea's wartime command structure (in the face of escalating threats from the communist state)," Defense Minister Han Min-koo told acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn during the New Year policy briefing.

The "three-pillar" defence system includes a "kill chain" strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation (KMPR) plan, Yonhap news agency reported.

The kill chain and the KAMD will reportedly be designed to detect and destroy incoming missiles in the shortest possible time, while the KMPR will focus on launching counterattacks on Pyongyang's military leadership if signs of the imminent use of nuclear weapons are detected.

Han also said that building better defences against North Korea's weapons of mass destruction – including nuclear weapons and missiles – is currently the top priority for the military.

Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul reportedly launched the Countering Nuclear and WMD Center on 1 January, which will draw up military operations and strategic countermeasures in a more detailed and organised manner against Pyongyang.

North Korea Kim Jong-un military drills
According to reports, Kim Jong-un's North Korea has around 40kg of weapons-grade plutonium, which is enough to build up to eight nuclear weapons - File photo KCNA via Reuters

The defence chief told the acting president that the Ministry of National Defense has recently updated their data on the size of weapons-grade plutonium and highly-enriched uranium that the North may be holding. According to the updated data, Pyongyang has around 40kg of weapons-grade plutonium, which is enough to build up to eight nuclear weapons, Yonhap reported.

Han added that the planned deployment of advanced weapons will be preponed by a couple of years from the original schedule of the mid-2020s to improve the country's defense capabilities. He also said that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (Thaad) will be deployed in the country as planned, adding that they will hold talks with Chinese counterparts to explain them the need for the deployment. China had objected to the installation planned by the US and South Korea.