North Korea said Wednesday its latest ballistic missile tests were personally ordered and monitored by supreme leader Kim Jong-un and simulated nuclear strikes on US bases in South Korea.
The three missiles launched on Tuesday were a dry run for attacks on South Korean ports and airfields hosting US military "hardware", the North's official KCNA news agency said.
The tests "examined the operational features of the detonating devices of nuclear warheads mounted on the ballistic rockets at the designated altitude over the target area", it said.
North Korea fired three ballistic missiles that flew between 500km and 600km into the sea off its east coast, South Korea's military said, the latest in a series of provocative moves by the isolated country.
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The US military said it believed two of the missiles were Scuds and the other a Rodong, a home-grown missile based on Soviet-era Scud technology.
North Korea is believed to be developing nuclear warheads and trying to miniaturise them to mount on ballistic missiles, but some experts say it may be a few years away from mastering the technology.
But Tuesday's missile launches were seen as a show of force rather than a test to improve missile capabilities, a week after South Korea and the United States chose a site in the South to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to counter threats from the North.
China has objected to the decision saying it would destabilise the security balance in the region. North Korea has threatened a "physical response" to the move.
South Korea said it was again in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban the North's use of ballistic missile technology.
North Korea came under the latest UN Security Council resolution after conducting its fourth nuclear test in January, and launching a long-range rocket the next month.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said the tests were "deeply troubling" and undermined efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.
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