South Korean defence ministry warned on Sunday that any attempt by North Korea to use nuclear weapons would lead to the "end" of its regime, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for an "exponential" increase in the country's nuclear arsenal.
The North Korean leader made the call during a recent plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party, where the country reiterated its push to strengthen nuclear weapons capabilities while naming the South "our undoubted enemy", Yonhap news agency reported.
"We gravely warn that should North Korea make an attempt at using nuclear arms, it would lead to the end of the Kim Jong-un regime," the ministry said in a text message sent to reporters.
The ministry urged the North to immediately stop its nuclear development and return to a path of denuclearisation, while calling on it to clearly realise such a course correction would be the "only way" to improve its people's livelihoods.
It also stressed that it would deter and respond to the North's nuclear and missile threats by "dramatically" reinforcing its "three-axis" defence system.
The three-pronged system consists of the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, an operational plan to incapacitate the North Korean leadership in a major conflict; the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike platform; and the Korea Air and Missile Defence system.
"Our military will build a military readiness posture to sternly retaliate against any symmetric or asymmetric North Korean provocations based on the determination not to hesitate to even go to war," the ministry said.