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

WASHINGTON, D.C.-In a Senate hearing on world wide threats against the United States, Dan Coats, former In senator and now the Director of National Intelligence, testified Thursday morning that Russia, China, and possibly even North Korea could target the US with cyber attacks.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program poses a potentially "existential" threat to the United States, the national intelligence director said in a bleak appraisal to Congress on Thursday. He says such activity has diminished since U.S.

And Coats said that "homegrown violent extremists remain the most frequent and unpredictable terrorist threat to the United States homeland". He added that ISIS was attempting to connect its global branches outside of Iraq and Syria more closely.

In remarks broadcast by C-SPAN, Coats said Russian interference in other nations' politics "sweeps across Europe and other places".

Coats says that the Kremlin has taken a much more aggressive "cyber posture", which "was evident in Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 United States election".

"First, our adversaries are becoming bolder, more capable and more adept at using cyberspace to threaten our interests and shape real-world outcomes", said Coats.

The security situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate and the Taliban will make ongoing gains, especially in rural areas. "These capabilities will give Moscow more options to counter USA forces and weapons systems". Stewart noted that North Korea has expressed the goal of creating an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tipped with a miniaturized nuclear weapon, and each test comes with progress towards that explicit goal.

"We have to do something very different than we've been doing in the past", Stewart said.

If left unchecked, Stewart added, the "stalemate" will deteriorate in the Taliban's favor, risking "all the gains" from USA -backed efforts there.

"We have to put it into context: This is not new", said CIA Director Michael Pompeo.

The hearing, which included the directors of six USA intelligence agencies, covered a broad range of worldwide threats, from Venezuela to Afghanistan. He said that China still needs to do more to pressure North Korea before it will change its behavior and can do more.

Stewart later said that Iran sees itself as the "dominant regional power", a position that might later put it in conflict with Russian Federation if their interest diverge from supporting Assad.

"Tehran's public statements suggest that it wants to preserve the [nuclear deal] because it views the deal as a means to remove sanctions while preserving some nuclear capabilities", Coats told lawmakers.

  • Joey Payne