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U.S. intelligence chief calls N. Korea potentially 'existential' threat to US

U.S. intelligence chief calls N. Korea potentially 'existential' threat to US

Coats, however, described the threat as potentially "existential".

Coats's 26-page statement offered an overview of myriad challenges facing the US, from high-profile concerns such as the actions of Russia, China and North Korea, to more amorphous threats like those posed by slowing global economic growth, the rise of artificial intelligence and the possibility of USA adversaries exploiting genome-editing.

The heads of six US intelligence agencies reviewed a slew of national security challenges facing the United States, warning about deteriorating security in Afghanistan, China's rising challenge, and Russian and other countries' use of cyberspace to target the USA and its allies. President Donald Trump has promised to cut excess spending as he tries to clean up the budget and decrease the deficit.

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.

The remarks from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats come as the Trump administration conducts a comprehensive review of its Iran policy.

"It's clear that we have assessed this as a very significant, potentially existential threat to the United States that has to be addressed", said Coats at a U.S. Senate hearing on world threats.

"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".

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

The director of national intelligence said Russian Federation and other countries, including China, North Korea and Iran, were using cyberspace to target United States and its allies, and will do so in future.

"Iran provides arms, financing, and training, and manages as many as 10,000 Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani Shia fighters in Syria to support the Assad regime", Coats said.

On Afghanistan, Coats said the situation "will very likely continue to deteriorate, even if worldwide support is sustained". The performance of Afghan national security forces will worsen because of weak military leadership, desertions and combat casualties, he predicted.

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

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. The report said that Iran is continuing to develop ballistic missiles, which are "inherently capable of delivering [weapons of mass destruction]".

The post North Korea poses "existential" threat, US intel chief warns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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