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North Korea Says It Will Boost 'War Deterrent'

North Korea's Foreign Ministry says the country will continue to boost what it calls its "war deterrent" as long as the United States and its allies pose a military threat.

A foreign Ministry spokesman issued the statement Wednesday in response to annual joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises which began Monday.

North Korea routinely denounces the exercises as a military provocation.

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in 2006. It refers to its nuclear program as a "war deterrent."

The North says the military exercises are a prelude to invasion, while the United States and South Korea say they are purely defensive.

Military officials say the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill will last until Friday and involves about 56,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 U.S. forces.

On Monday the North blamed the U.S. for delaying its removal from a terrorism blacklist. The U.S. says it will take North Korea off the list only after the county agrees to a full nuclear verification plan.