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Seoul reacts to North Korea's latest nuclear maneuvers

President Yoon has warned of a "grave security reality" on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang's latest weapons tests

Seoul and its Northeast Asian neighbors face a "grave" security threat after North Korea carried out weeks of weapons tests to simulate nuclear strikes against its enemies, South Korea has warned.

"It is important to accurately recognize the grave security reality on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and prepare appropriately for it," a spokesperson for President Yoon Suk-yeol said in a notice to reporters on Monday. "Protecting the lives and safety of people is not about words, but it is a real-life problem."

The statement came hours after Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean nuclear forces had successfully completed a test simulating the loading of tactical warheads into a silo hidden below a reservoir. The test was done to verify that the warheads could be transported, loaded and readied for launch in a "rapid and safe way at the time of operation, checking the reliability of the overall management system," KCNA said.

The test was part of a series of missile launches and other drills that North Korea began on September 25 to ensure the readiness of its nuclear forces to "wipe out" potential South Korean and US targets, according to the report. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who reportedly supervised all of the tests, said his military forces will "maintain their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way."

Kim also ruled out peace talks with Washington or Seoul, saying the "enemies have still been talking about dialogue and negotiations while posing military threats to us." He added that North Korea has "nothing to talk about without our enemies, and we do not feel the need to do so."

Yoon dangled what he thought was an olive branch in August, offering to  provide economic aid to North Korea in exchange for the country unwinding its nuclear weapons program. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, responded angrily to Yoon, saying, "It would have been more favorable for his image to shut his mouth, rather than talking nonsense as he had nothing better to say."

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North Korea's launches of ballistic missiles in recent weeks came in response to large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea, KCNA said. Kim Jong-un warned that "irresponsible aggravation of the situation by the US and South Korean regimes" will trigger an even stronger response by Pyongyang.