"The military tested two home-developed, long-range missiles that could hit any target in North Korea," said the official on condition of anonymity.

The test came almost a month after North Korea said it had successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile  a claim which numerous experts said was probably exaggerated.

A fully developed SLBM capability would take the North Korean nuclear threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and giving it the potential to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.

As well as the SLBM test, Pyongyang recently boasted of its ability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead to fit on high-precision, long-range rockets.

Experts also questioned that claim, although there is broad agreement that the North is moving ahead quickly with both its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The type of South Korean missile tested Wednesday is capable of carrying a one-tonne payload up to 500 kilometres (310 miles).

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