DPRK state media reported on 3 February (Sunday) that Kim Jong Un chaired a meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Military Commission [CMC], staff of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] Supreme Command, commanding officers of KPA large combined units (taeyonhap pudae), senior commanders of the KPA Navy, KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces and the KPA Strategic Rocket Force Command [SRFC]. KJU’s last reported public appearance was at a photo-op with participants of the 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries. DPRK state media described it as an enlarged meeting of the CMC which “discussed the issue of bringing about a great turn in bolstering up the military capability, true to the Military-First (So’ngun) revolutionary leadership of the WPK, and an organizational issue.” According to KCNA the meeting was “held at an important time when a turning phase is being opened in building a thriving socialist nation and achieving the cause of national reunification will mark an important occasion in powerfully encouraging the army and people of the DPRK all out in the general advance of the new year full of conviction of certain victory and optimism and bolstering up the defence capability of the country in every way.”
At the meeting Kim Jong Un delivered a speech “which serves as guidelines for further strengthening the KPA into a matchless revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu and defending the security and sovereignty of the country as required by the WPK and the developing revolution.” After KJU’s speech, “the participants in the meeting extended highest glory and deepest thanks to Kim Jong Un, who is ushering in the greatest heyday of increasing the military capability with his extraordinary wisdom and stratagem, matchless grit and pluck and noble virtues and evinced their firm determination to unconditionally and thoroughly implement the militant tasks set forth by him in his speech.”
Unlike previous statements issued by the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC], DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and editorials and essays that appeared in state media outlets KCNA, Rodong Sinmun, or Minju Choson, this particular news item on the CMC meeting contained no overt references to “upcoming all-out action” or possible nuclear test activities. The report on the CMC meeting did note “an organizational issue” which may indicate personnel changes in the KPA high command or within the CMC itself. It should be noted that the CMC is one body (the NDC being in the other in joint coordination) which authorizes and has oversight over military industry production, research and development. If an experimental nuclear detonation is imminent at the test site at Punggye-ri in Kilchu County, North Hamgy’ong Province, this enlarged CMC meeting may represent formal authorization (“bolstering up the military capability” and ”increasing the military capability”) for the test to proceed.