North Korea is slated to convene a key parliamentary meeting this week amid keen attention to whether its leader Kim Jong-un will issue another message related to the country's development of nuclear and other major weapons.
The Supreme People's Assembly will hold the meeting Tuesday to discuss policy tasks, state budget issues and organizational matters for 2023, the North's state media said last month.
The SPA is the highest organ of state power under the North's constitution, but it actually only rubber-stamps decisions by the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
Observers said at the upcoming meeting, the SPA is expected to approve key decisions made at the WPK's longest-ever, six-day plenary meeting held in late December last year.
During the party meeting, the North's leader called for an "exponential" increase of the country's nuclear arsenal, while labeling South Korea as his country's "undoubted enemy."
He also raised the need to mass-produce tactical nuclear weapons and develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with "quick nuclear counterstrike" capabilities.
Experts said one of the major focal points for this week's SPA meeting would be whether Kim would deliver a message targeting the South or the United States in regard to his country's nuclear ambitions.
During an SPA session in September 2022, the North's leader publicly announced the legalization of nuclear weapons, as its parliament approved a new law that allows for a preemptive nuclear strike.
The North also fired around 70 ballistic missiles last year, the most in a single year, including the Nov. 18 firing of a Hwasong-17 ICBM, amid speculation it may conduct a nuclear test in the near future.
Some observers said Kim may not attend the SPA meeting, given the country will likely rather focus on preparing events to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on Feb. 8. (Yonhap)