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[SEOUL] 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 targets in South Korea.
Tuesday's test firing of three missiles in violation of existing UN resolutions was seen as an angry reaction to the planned deployment of a US missile defence system in the South.
The launch of the two Scud missiles and one intermediate-range Rodong was condemned by the United States, Japan and South Korea, who vowed a collective diplomatic response.
The tests were monitored by Kim Jong-Un and the range of the missiles was limited to simulate pre-emptive 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.
According to the South Korean military, the two Scuds flew between 500 and 600 kilometres (310-370 miles) into the Sea of Japan, while the Rodong was fired about an hour later.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon on Tuesday said the tests were "deeply troubling" and undermined efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.
UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from developing ballistic missile technology.