South Korean President Park Geun-hye has ordered the military to be in full combat readiness against emerging threats from North Korea. She said any more provocation from the rival North would lead to the "self-destruction" of the Kim Jong-un regime.
Park's warning has come amid instability in the Korean peninsula, which has been witnessing a series of aggressive acts in recent months. Tensions further rose in the region after Pyongyang blasted off a ballistic missile from a submarine on 24 August.
"I call on you to maintain a robust posture to retaliate... to make sure that any attempt by the North at engaging in any form of provocations will lead to the self-destruction of the North Korean regime," said Park on Monday (29 August), Yonhap news agency reported. She was holding a top-level meeting with government authorities over the situation.
"[Improving human rights] is the cornerstone for us to open an era of peaceful reunification. The government will send out to the North Korean people messages of hope for freedom and [human] dignity," said the South Korean leader.
Her warning has also come when scores of ruling party leaders have called for the setting up of a nuclear-powered submarine in order to counter the threats from Pyongyang. A group of Saenuri Party members have said Seoul should consider building nuclear-powered underwater vessels quickly.
In a statement, they said: "South Korea's military should move to deal effectively with North Korea's SLBM threat by deploying submarines with nuclear propulsion that can better detect and attack North Korean vessels. South Korea, surrounded by sea at three sides, is vulnerable to North Korea's SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] threats. Deployment of nuclear-powered submarines is needed to counter such provocations.'
The North's missile launched from a submerged vessel travelled up to 500km before landing in Japan's special defence zone. The launch was widely considered a success. Besides, this was the longest distance cruised by the submarine-launched missile fired by the reclusive country with the first two test-firing ending in failure.