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South Korean and American forces began 11 days of joint drills, dubbed Freedom Shield 23, on Monday, held on a scale not seen since 2017 to counter the North’s growing threats.

Kim accused the United States and South Korea of increasing tensions with the military drills.

He “stressed the need to strike fear into the enemies, really deter war and reliably guarantee the peaceful life of our people and their struggle for socialist construction by irreversibly bolstering up the nuclear war deterrent”, KCNA reported.

China, which has a defence pact with North Korea, also blamed the United States for the current tensions, saying they are caused by Washington’s efforts to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

The Hwasong-17 is North Korea’s biggest missile yet, and is the largest road-mobile, liquid-fuelled ICBM in the world.

It is believed to have the range to potentially deliver a nuclear warhead to targets anywhere in the United States.

The missile was launched from Pyongyang’s airport, and KCNA said it travelled up to a maximum altitude of 6,045km and flew a distance of 1,000 km in a little more than 69 minutes before falling into the open sea.

The launch did not pose a safety threat to any neighbouring countries, the report said.