North Korea poses 'existential' threat, US intel chief warns

Posted May 14, 2017

'Tehran continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats -including against U.S. allies in the region, ' Coats wrote.

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to ideal an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate global prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic "would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons".

"If the DPRK had not had access to the powerful nuclear force and had not gotten itself ready to counter the USA and its vassal forces' provocation with merciless military counteraction, the US would have committed without hesitation the same aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries", the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying on May 1. Coats declined to provide such details in an open hearing. Sen.

"As part of the administration's goal of an effective and efficient government, we have already begun a review of the entire intelligence community, to include the office of the DNI", Coats said.

Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the Defense Intelligence Agency's director, said North Korea was at the same time developing a nuclear device and processing fissile material, aiming to miniaturize a device for a warhead to mount on such missiles.

Mr. Coats told the panel: "We assess that Russian Federation is likely to be more aggressive in foreign global affairs, more unpredictable in its approach to the United States, and more authoritarian in its approach to domestic policies and politics".

'Iran continues to develop a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target United States and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, ' Coats wrote. The North's public claims suggest it could conduct its first flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile this year.

Coats's testimony paired with a Worldwide Threat Assessment report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Thursday. Coats said Afghan troops suffer from "combat casualties, desertions, poor logistical support and weak leadership".

For the Trump Administration, facing a question whether to increase the United States troop levels in Afghanistan, this can't be good news.

"Kabul's political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will nearly certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017", he wrote in a 26-page statement summarizing the yearly joint report to Congress by the nation's intelligence agencies delivered ahead of his committee appearance.

Iran is continuing to work on ballistic missiles that would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons over thousands of miles, according to US Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.

Coats testimony was part of a list that included the interim Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Andrew McCabe, who spoke in lieu of his fired former boss, James Comey.

'We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them'.

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