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North Korea fires several cruise missiles toward Yellow Sea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the training command post of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo by AFP)

North Korea has launched several cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea, South Korea’s military says, amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Saturday that the missiles were fired at around 4 a.m. local time, without providing any further details, the South's official Yonhap news agency reported.

"While strengthening our monitoring and vigilance, our military is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States," South Korea’s military said.

Tokyo said Pyongyang’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles "threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community”.

The latest missile launches came just two days after North Korea staged a simulated “scorched-earth” nuclear strike drill on potential targets across South Korea in response to joint military exercises by the US and South Korea off the Korean Peninsula. 

The US and South Korea began the Ulchi Freedom Shield summer exercises on August 21, pledging to enhance their joint action against North Korea.

The drills drew condemnation from North Korea which warned Washington and its allies of the “danger of a nuclear war.”

North Korea, which is under harsh sanctions by the United Nations and the United States for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, views all military drills conducted by Washington and its regional allies as rehearsals for the invasion of its territory.

Pyongyang has been very open about its missile program, saying its objective is to defend the nation against US aggression exemplified in its continuous military drills and deployment of nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula.

Late last month, the North launched a series of weapons tests in response to persisting provocations by joint US-South Korea war games in the region as well as an agreement by the two allies to deploy nuclear assets to the South.

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