Tensions are mounting amid speculations that North Korea will engage in another major provocation around October 10th or 18th. October tenth marks the founding anniversary of the North's ruling Workers' Party, and China's ruling Communist Party is set to hold its congress starting October 18th.
North Korea on Saturday held a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the Workers' Party and conducted a major reshuffle.
In the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yo-jong was promoted and selected as an alternate member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the Worker's Party and a close aide to Kim Jong-un, was appointed to the party's Central Military Commission.
In a speech at the meeting, Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development.
South Korean and U.S. forces are maintaining a bolstered defense posture as the North could carry out provocations around the Worker's Party anniversary or the Chinese party event.
North Korea conducted a nuclear test a day before the anniversary in 2006, and held a massive military parade to mark it in 2015.
South Korean and U.S. military are known to be closely observing any moves by the North Korean military using their surveillance and reconnaissance assets in order to respond immediately in case of a provocation.