April 21 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un has consolidated his control of the Workers' Party by establishing a "unified leadership system" since the Seventh Party Congress in 2016, according to a South Korean analyst.
Lee Seung-yeol, a legislative investigator with Seoul's National Assembly Research Service, said during a conference in Seoul the North Korean leader maintains dominance by tying in the survival of Workers' Party politicians to their ability to provide funds for Kim's use, and for the advancement of nuclear and missile capabilities, Yonhap reported Friday.
Under Kim, North Korea has created a "virtuous circle" of favorable results that reinforces Kim's "unique leadership system" and incentivizes North Korean party leaders to rake in funds for the country's nuclear weapons program.
Lee also said that under the current leader, control of the weapons program is now under the Workers' Party and no longer with the Korean People's Army.
Punishment and purges are the consequences for party leaders who cannot bring in funds from China, according to Lee.
"If the party leadership cannot bring in funds from China for Kim's rule, purges of the organizational leadership ensue," Lee said, adding if under sanctions North Korea can no longer bring in income from trade with China, "The ruling elite of the party could collapse, and lead to great political chaos."
The chain of incentives in North Korea has been responsible for the advancement of North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile program.
According to a recent report from an eight-member U.N. panel of experts, "Rapid technological developments have taken place over a short period, resulting in significant progress toward an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile system."
The report referred to the KN-11, a projectile similar to the first generation of U.S. nuclear-tipped sub-launched missiles known as Polaris, according to The Washington Free Beacon.