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

Donald Trump

"In addition to the HVE threat, a small number of foreign-based Sunni violent extremist groups will also pose a threat to the U.S. homeland and continue publishing multilingual propaganda that calls for attacks against United States and Western interests in the USA homeland and overseas", said the assessment.

"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.

LTG Vincent Stewart, the Defense Intelligence Agency's director, also testified before a Senate panel on Thursday that the situation is grim and that the United States must do "something very different" in Afghanistan or else the Taliban will make new advances on the battlefield.

On Afghanistan, Coats said the situation "will very likely continue to deteriorate, even if worldwide support is sustained".

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The Trump administration is considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to help train Afghan security forces. The North's public claims suggest it could conduct its first flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile this year.

On North Korea, Coats called the threat posed from the nation's advancing weapons program "potentially existential threat".

Last year's report similarly stated that while the United States does not know whether the Iranian government will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons, but added that "Iran's implementation of the JCPOA, however, has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year".

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. The performance of Afghan national security forces will worsen because of weak military leadership, desertions and combat casualties, he predicted.

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Central Intelligence Agency has ten mission centers on regions or issues; center devoted to one country highly unusual On May 10, the Central Intelligence Agency announced the establishment of the Korea Mission Center, which is created to counter the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles.

"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.

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

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. While the administration has said it will talk with Kim's regime if it shows a willingness to abandon its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, the report signaled that any such move is unlikely.

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