North Korea marks the 76th anniversary of the founding of its military, the Korean People's Army, on Thursday. The country's leader, Kim Jong Un, is expected to stress his determination to continue military buildup through the development of new ballistic and cruise missiles.
A military parade was held on a grand scale last year in Pyongyang, with Kim in attendance. But there have been no reported signs of one taking place this year.
North Korea announced last month it successfully test-fired a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile that can be fired more quickly than those that use liquid propellants.
It also said it tested an underwater nuclear weapons system in waters off its east coast.
North Korea also fired cruise missiles four times in the course of 10 days through February 2 -- an unusually high frequency. Cruise missiles can fly low, irregular trajectories for a long time and are difficult to detect and intercept.
Experts say the North may be trying to quickly strengthen its ability to launch surprise attacks by developing various missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
On the commemoration day, the North could stress through state-run media its resolve to strengthen its military prowess in line with its five-year defense plan, now in its fourth year. The country has been opposing deepening security cooperation among Japan, the US and South Korea.