Responding to the drills, North Korea fired two short-range missiles into its eastern waters on Monday morning when South Korea and the US kicked off the joint war games code-named "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle".

"By putting sustained military pressure on North Korea, the US seeks to prevent it from concentrating on economic construction and the improvement of the people's living standard," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman called the US the "chief culprit" for escalating tension and disturbing peace on the Korean Peninsula and accused Washington of "challenging the sincere proposals and efforts" of Pyongyang.

The statement also criticised the US for impeding improvement of the inter-Korean relations by conducting such combined war games.

The General Staff Department of the Korean People's Army of North Korea said in an earlier statement that such joint war games were rehearsals for the northward nuclear war to remove the North Korean leadership and occupy Pyongyang.

In January, Pyongyang offered to "temporarily suspend" its nuclear tests if the US agreed to temporarily halt joint military exercises with South Korea this year. But the proposal was flatly rejected by the two countries.

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