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

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

North Korea's nuclear programme poses as a "potentially existential threat" to Washington, US National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said. "And they have the capacity to do more as well".

Daniel Coats, America's top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran's ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

United States intelligence agencies believe Venezuela's government will ratchet up repression against the country's population this year to contain growing popular discontent, a senior United States official said yesterday.

His comments came as Trump is set to receive Pentagon reccomendations this week on potential options in Afghanistan.

The U.S. and South Korea Launch Operation Max Thunder Thu, April 20, 2017 The US and South Korea kicked off a big exercise just as North Korea threatens "thermonuclear war". "The Taliban are likely to continue to make gains, especially in rural areas", said the USA spy chief, adding that efforts to bolster local military have been less fruitful than hoped.

Bottas edges Vettel; wins maiden Grand Prix
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"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 U.S. national security. The North's public claims suggest it could conduct its first flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile this year. He recommended that US forces train with Afghan forces down the chain of command to the corps level, and that the Afghan security forces learn to make better use of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) and air support. "... But they're on that path and they're committed to doing that".

"We have dedicated a very significant amount of our intelligence resources to the issue of North Korea".

But he said China can and should do more.

However, a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Coats said last month that U.S. President Donald Trump aims to use economic sanctions and diplomatic measures to pressure the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs.

Coats told the committee that he seems Iran holding to the nuclear deal agreed to last year, and that the deal, which extended Iran's breakout time for a nuclear weapon from a few months to a year, has enhanced transparency of Iran's nuclear activities. He noted Iran's support for Shia fighters backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict in the country and the deployment of the nation's own forces there.

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