South Korea's top defense official voiced doubt Monday that North Korea will use its nuclear weapons, saying that such an act would be "suicidal."
"The North Korean regime will probably be removed from the map if it uses developed nuclear weapons against South Korea or the United States," Defense Minister Song Young-moo said at a security forum in Singapore, which was webcast live.
He dismissed the Kim Jong-un regime's talk of a nuclear strike as a "propaganda" strategy, not something that will actually happen.
"It's an anachronistic idea that North Korea will use nuclear weapons for the unification (of the two Koreas)," he said, responding to a question after a keynote speech at the Fullerton Forum hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Song also defended the Moon Jae-in administration's efforts for dialogue with the North.
"It may be a rough path, which could take a long time. But I think we have to go that way by being patient and patient again," he added.
On the weekend, the minister had bilateral talks with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Hawaii, where the two defense chiefs reaffirmed the ironclad alliance between the two countries in the face of the North's recent peace offensive.
They emphasized that "any efforts to drive a wedge in the U.S.-ROK (South Korea) alliance would fail," as they stick to the shared goal of denuclearizing the North in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" manner, according to a press release.