North Korea
North KoreaiStock

North Korea said on Wednesday its latest missile launches were a military drill designed to train crews to carry out their mission at any time and "annihilate the enemy" if necessary, Reuters reported, citing the country's state media KCNA.

With the statement, the North confirmed South Korea’s report that it fired the two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday.

The launch was a "demonstration drill" and saw two surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missiles fired from near the west coast in South Hwanghae province, flying some 611 kilometers over the country before hitting a target on a small island off the east coast, the KCNA report confirmed.

"Saying that they will surely annihilate the enemy if they fight it, the commander of the unit resolved to thoroughly have the ability to fully carry out its duty of fire assault any time by further intensifying the training of every fire assault company," KCNA reported.

The firing of the missiles come as the 11-day joint drills between South Korean and American forces, dubbed "Freedom Shield 23," are under way, their largest joint military drills in years.

Pyongyang condemns the drills as a rehearsal for invasion and proof of hostile policies from Seoul and Washington.

Last week, North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine, ahead of joint military drills by the United States and South Korea which have angered Pyongyang.

On Sunday, North Korea said it has decided to take "important practical" war deterrence measures, adding "war provocations of the US and South Korea are reaching the red-line."

The North has upped the volume of its ballistic missile tests in recent months. The country tested dozens of ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.