US sees Iran working to preserve nuclear deal

Posted May 13, 2017

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.

He said that while ISIS had lost territory in Iraq and Syria, the intelligence community has assessed its threat to the USA continues due to its ability to both direct and inspire attacks.

And Coats said that "homegrown violent extremists remain the most frequent and unpredictable terrorist threat to the United States homeland".

"In 2017, Russian Federation is likely to be more assertive in global affairs, more unpredictable in its approach to the United States, and more authoritarian in its approach to domestic politics", Coats said in the statement summarizing the yearly joint report to Congress by the nation's intelligence agencies.

Coats said that the security situation in Afghanistan will further deteriorate even if there is a modest increase in US military support for the war-torn country.

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In findings that echoed previous assessments, Coats said North Korea's nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs pose an "increasingly grave national security threat to the United States and its interests", while Iran is stepping up its role as a regional actor, backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

On Afghanistan, Coats said the situation "will very likely continue to deteriorate, even if global support is sustained". "These capabilities will give Moscow more options to counter United States forces and weapons systems".

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

"Nuclear device, processing enough fissile material for nuclear warheads and developing a wide range of missile technology - short, intermediate, long range missile technology".

If left unchecked, Stewart added, the "stalemate" will deteriorate in the Taliban's favor, risking "all the gains" from US -backed efforts there. "So, they're going to put those two together at some point, but we haven't seen them do that tested end-to-end", Stewart said.

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

On Iran, whose nuclear ambitions preoccupied Washington under President Barack Obama, Coats said the USA sees Tehran maintaining last year's agreement that contains its program in exchange for sanctions relief.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, also testifying, said that China has been exerting pressure on North Korea "in a way that they have not made before" and has significantly cut coal imports from the country.

Tehran's rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from USA sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities.

"We assess that the regime will maintain its momentum on the battlefield provided, as it's likely, that it maintains support from Iran and Russian Federation", he said.

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