North Korea threatens ‘more powerful’ response to US-South Korea drills

North Korea has lashed out at the US for expanding military exercises with South Korea and warned of “more powerful follow-up measures”.

An unnamed spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the joint military drills showed that the US is the “chief culprit in destroying peace and security”, reported the Associated Press.

“If the US continuously persists in the grave military provocations, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will take into account more powerful follow-up measures,” the spokesperson said.

The statement did not specify what those measures could be.

The statement comes days after North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles towards the sea.

The area was apparently closer to South Korea than any other missile launch site North Korea has used so far this year.

The launches were the North’s first ballistic missile tests since 14 October.

The launches came as large-scale training drills were conducted between South Korea and the US’s air force.

This week, the two countries are running aerial drills called “Vigilant Storm” from Monday to Friday.

Last week South Korea completed its annual 12-day “Hoguk“ field exercises that officials say also involved an unspecified number of US troops.

Officials in South Korea say that North Korea could continue to keep up pressure by detonating its first nuclear test device since September 2017.

This year, the North has conducted a record run of weapons tests, which are being seen as leader Kim Jong-un’s efforts to intimidate the South and the US to accept the North as a legitimate nuclear state and lift economic sanctions on them.

In September Mr Kim said that North Korea will never abandon their nuclear weapons even if his country was sanctioned for “100 years”.

The North has also conducted a record number of missile tests this year whcich are being seen as part of the country’s efforts to intimidate the South and the US to accept the North as a legitimate nuclear state.

Last week, US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman said that the US will make full use of its military capabilities, “including nuclear, conventional and missile defense," to defend its allies Japan and South Korea while warning North Korea against escalating its provocations.

(Additional reporting by agencies)