DPRK poses "potentially existential threat": U.S. intelligence chief

Miranda GreerMay 14, 2017

"The political and security situation in Afghanistan will also nearly certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in the military assistance by the United States and its partners", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at the hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"It's clear that we have assessed this as a very significant, potentially existential threat to the United States that has to be addressed", he said. In some cases, Russian intelligence actors have masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas created to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack.

The report states that USA intelligence believes "Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them".

"North Korea is an increasingly grave national security threat to the United States because of its growing missile and nuclear capabilities combined with the aggressive approach of its leader, Kim Jong-un".

"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban", Coats told lawmakers in presenting an annual assessment of threats to U.S. national security. He added that ISIS was attempting to connect its global branches outside of Iraq and Syria more closely.

Unlike during his confirmation hearing, Coats on Thursday did not use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" - a favorite of President Donald Trump.

"Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so" Coats wrote in his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee. "And they have the capacity to do more as well".

North Korea has been issuing clear warnings to the US against taking any kind of stance against it, cautioning that it has the firepower to destroy a large part of the USA landscape.

The security situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate and the Taliban will make ongoing gains, especially in rural areas. But he warned that "left unchecked, that stalemate will deteriorate in the favor of belligerence".

"They will be spurred on by terrorist groups' public calls to carry out attacks in the West", said the assessment. Among those options is one to reportedly send between 3,000 and 5,000 USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops to the country to participate in the training of the Afghan security forces. He says such activity has diminished since U.S. The administration has said, however, that it wants China to use its leverage over North Korea to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Coats appeared before the Senate committee along with other intelligence agency leaders, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.

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