North Korea fires 'several projectiles', says South

This image provided by Yonhap News TV represents a North Korea missile launch

This image provided by Yonhap News TV represents a North Korea missile launch

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - North Korea fired several short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast early on Saturday, South Korea and the USA military said, as the two allies conducted annual joint military drills that the North denounces as preparation for war.

"As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat remains unchallenged, (North Korea) will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table or step back an inch from the path it took to bolster the national nuclear force", Mr Ju said. Dave Benham says the two missiles flew about 155 miles.

South Korean and American forces are conducting their joint annual drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), which Pyongyang deemed as a provocation.

"Although the launches were no threat to Guam, it reminds us that we can not be complacent", Charfauros said.

North Korea's military had threatened missile launches toward the USA territory of Guam, where the US has several military installations.

North Korea launched a barrage of missiles Saturday, less than one week after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised the country for showing "restraint" in its weapons program. David Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said the missile launches occurred "between 11:49 a.m. and 12:19 p.m. Hawaii time August 25". "We place confidence in our U.S. Department of Defense capabilities and continue open communications with our federal and military partners". It said earlier that the third missile appears to have blown up immediately.

Tillerson had said he hoped that the lack of missiles launches or other "provocative acts" by Pyongyang could mean a path could be opening for dialogue "sometime in the near future".

North Korea's state media reported on Saturday that Kim had guided a contest of amphibious landing and aerial strike by its army against targets modelled after South Korean islands near the sea border on the west coast.

It is also believed to be developing a solid-fuel missile that could be used for submarine launches. North Korea has demonstrated significant advancements in its missile technology this year testing and is on a pace to test more missiles this year than in any previous calendar year.

"The reality vividly shows that the USA ambition for stifling [North Korea] remains unchanged no matter how much water may flow under the bridge and the puppet group's ambition for invading the north remains unchanged", the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

NPR's Elise Hu reports from Seoul that the USA maintains the computer-based drills are purely defensive, but the North has long regarded them as preparations for invasion.

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