U.S. intelligence services believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has succeeded in tightening his grip on power through a generational shift in the party and the military.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that two years after he took power Kim has further consolidated its position as sole leader and final decision maker.
He has tightened controls and ensured loyalty through personnel reshuffles and purges, Clapper said.
Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Michael Flynn echoed the assessment. Flynn said the recent execution of Kim's uncle, Jang Song-taek was a strong message that he is "not willing to tolerate defiance in any form."
The regime is seeking to improve the economy and reduce external threats, Flynn added.