South Korea has vowed to immediately retaliate against any potential provocations by North Korea, as thousands of troops gathered in the South Korean capital city of Seoul Tuesday for an Armed Forces Day military parade.
“Based on battle-ready combat capabilities and a solid readiness posture, our military will immediately retaliate against any North Korean provocation,” South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said at a ceremony commemorating the country’s 75th Armed Forces Day.
He added: “If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response.”
The show of force, the country’s first military parade in 10 years, comes as North Korea and Russia have recently bolstered their relationship as the North seeks a nuclear arsenal and Moscow looks to resupply conventional arms exhausted by its war with Ukraine.
Yoon said Seoul is striving to build “a strong military that instills fear in the enemy.”
The military parade Tuesday featured about 4,600 South Korean soldiers, accompanied by more than 300 U.S. combat troops, parading through the streets of Seoul. They were flanked by tanks, missiles and other weapons in a show of military preparedness and readiness.
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 its development of spy satellites, nuclear-propelled submarines and long-range, ballistic missiles.
Experts have said such weapons would pose a major security threat to neighboring South Korea as well as the rest of the world, including the U.S.
Yoon did not mention North Korean-Russian ties in his speech Tuesday.
During an address to the U.N. General Assembly last week, however, he said South Korea “will not sit idly by” if North Korea and Russia agree to such weapons deals in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban all weapons trading with North Korea.
U.S. officials have also said that North Korea and Russia would face consequences if they proceed with materializing a deal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.