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

The nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) posed a "potentially existential threat" to the United States, U.S. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said on Thursday.

The Senate intelligence committee is holding a hearing on worldwide threats, and intelligence director Dan Coats says Russian Federation is a threat to US government, military, diplomatic, business and critical infrastructure.

Russian political interference is spreading to more countries around the world, in part because the Internet and social media have made such meddling cheaper, according to senior USA intelligence officials.

Senators sought an assessment of when North Korea would be able to strike the USA with a nuclear weapon.

"It's officials consistently state that nuclear weapons are the basis for regime survival", said Coats of North Korea, "suggesting Kim does not intend, does not intend, to negotiate them away".

According to Defense One, Coats spoke to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and talked about the growing number of threats facing the homeland and potentially shrinking the agencies that handle them.

"They are on that path, and they are committed to doing that", he said.

And on the Iran deal, the director of national intelligence said the implementation of the nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration had extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce the fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year. But he warned that "left unchecked, that stalemate will deteriorate in the favor of belligerence". Moscow has a highly advanced offensive cyber program, and in recent years, the Kremlin has assumed a more aggressive cyber posture. 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 also said that the Iraqi government would continue to face serious challenges to its stability and political viability, even as the threat from ISIS decreases as the effort to oust it from its major stronghold in the city of Mosul intensifies.

Information for this article was contributed by Matthew Pennington and Deb Riechmann of The Associated Press; and by Nick Wadhams and Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News.

  • Leroy Wright