Pyongyang poses potentially existential threat: United States intel chief

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee

"This aggressiveness was evident in Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 USA election and we assess that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized the 2016 USA election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets", Coats wrote in his statement.

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

"If the DPRK had not had access to the powerful nuclear force and had not gotten itself ready to counter the U.S. and its vassal forces' provocation with merciless military counteraction, the United States of America 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.

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

Coats said that the security situation in Afghanistan will further deteriorate even if there is a modest increase in US military support for the war-torn country.

"US-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) will remain the most frequent and unpredictable Sunni violent extremist threat to the U.S. homeland", the threat assessment said in a section entitled "Terrorist Threat to the United States".

"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 USA national security.


The amount of time it would take for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon is estimated to be from a few months to a year. But much of the attention turned to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, making his first public appearance in that role since Trump fired James Comey on Tuesday.

Coats' statement also addressed concerns over China's continued construction on islands and other geographic features in the South China Sea, according to the statement, and will have its first long-range, sea-based nuclear capability when it finishes developing its JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

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

The report also notes that Iran's progress in its space program could expedite its path to an ICBM since space launch vehicles use similar technologies. Coats said Afghan troops suffer from "combat casualties, desertions, poor logistical support and weak leadership".

US National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said on Thursday that even if the US and its allies increase their military aid to the war-torn country, the security situation there is still likely to deteriorate.

"Kabul's political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will nearly certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017", he wrote.

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