By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- A nuclear attack by North Korea against the U.S. or its allies will result in the end of the country's regime, the U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday.
In its National Defense Strategy (NDS), the department said the U.S. will also hold North Korea responsible for any transfer of nuclear weapons or related materials and technology to other actors.
"Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime," said the NDS.
"There is no scenario in which the Kim regime could employ nuclear weapons and survive," it added, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The new U.S. defense strategy comes amid speculation that Pyongyang may soon conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test.
The North conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the NDS is "clear eyed" about threats posed by North Korea and its evolving nuclear, missile capabilities.
"The NDS is also clear eyed about other serious threats and that includes North Korea's expanding nuclear and missile capabilities," he told a press briefing.
North Korea has launched a total of 44 ballistic missile launches this year, the largest number of ballistic missile it fired in a single year, according to U.S. officials.
"The NDS charges us to defend the U.S. homeland to deter strategic attacks against the United States and our allies and partners, to prepare to prevail in conflict when necessary," said Austin.
The NDS also highlights proliferation risks posed by North Korea.
"We will hold the (North Korean) regime responsible for any transfer it makes of nuclear weapons technology, material or expertise to any state or non-state actor," it said.
(LEAD) S. Korea stages military parade in downtown Seoul for 1st time in decade
(LEAD) Court rejects arrest warrant for opposition leader Lee over corruption charges
(Asiad) S. Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo embroiled in controversy after 2nd-round upset
S. Korea shows off 'high-power' missiles for Armed Forces Day ceremony
(2nd LD) (Asiad) S. Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo embroiled in controversy after 2nd-round upset
DP averts crisis following court's rejection of Lee's arrest; focus shifts to unity
5 years after signing, future of inter-Korean military accord unclear
In desperation, N. Korea, Russia turn to one another for mutual assistance rivaling U.S.-S. Korea cooperation
Yoon seeks to carve out bigger role for S. Korea in Indo-Pacific, world
Despite gov't assurance, seafood safety woes spread in S. Korea over Japan's Fukushima plan