Following a number of ballistic missile tests this year that have heightened tensions with Washington and Seoul, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a conference of senior military leaders to discuss national defense policy and a continued arms buildup.

In recent months, United States and South Korean officials have speculated that Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017 as Kim escalates his bluster in an effort to solidify North Korea's status as a nuclear power.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday that Kim was presiding over a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Military Commission.

The meeting, the report said, was part of preparations to review defense work during the first half of 2022 and confirm "vital and urgent tasks" to expand military capabilities and implement key defense policies.

The paper did not detail any plans or contain any disparaging words about the United States or South Korea, its adversary.

According to KCNA, the commission is now discussing the proposed agenda, implying that the meeting could last for days.

Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at South Korea's private Sejong Institute, said that the members could discuss the progress in weapons development and plans to deploy some of the systems that have been tested in recent months.

These weapon systems include a purported hypersonic missile, a long-range cruise missile, and the country's newest intercontinental ballistic missile, KCNA said.

Kim announced a five-year arms development plan for North Korea in early 2021, along with an extensive wish list of advanced military assets, including tactical nuclear weapons, nuclear-powered submarines, and solid-fuel, long-range weapons. This plan has led to an increase in North Korea's testing activity.

Kim doubled down on his weaponry buildup in the face of what he saw as an escalating security environment and outlined more "military responsibilities" for his armed forces and military scientists at a key political conference earlier this month.

North Korea has already established an annual record for ballistic launches in the first half of 2022, launching 31 missiles in over 18 separate events, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile displays in nearly five years.

Last week, the South Korean military also detected its northern neighbor firing artillery shells into the sea.

North Korea has nearly completed preparations to detonate a nuclear weapon at its testing site in the northeastern city of Punggye-ri, according to U.S. and South Korean authorities.