US intelligence director warns of more Russian cyberthreats

Donald Trump

Unlike during his confirmation hearing, Coats on Thursday did not use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" - a favorite of President Donald Trump.

The intelligence community will continue to dedicate resources to the problem, he said.

Calling North Korea "an increasingly grave national security threat" to the US, Coats said Pyongyang had taken "initial steps" toward fielding a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, Xinhua news agency reported.

Director of National Intelligence testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community, asked the intelligence community leaders if they accepted a January report from the Obama administration that Russian Federation had attempted to interfere in the presidential election through a campaign of disinformation, data thefts and leaks. The North Koreans have conducted static ground tests of ICBM engines and at least one ground-test of a re-entry vehicle that could carry a warhead, missile analyst Jeffrey Lewis said. North Korea must still overcome "important shortfalls" in developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile before it can field a weapon capable of hitting the US, according to the Pentagon.

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.

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The main driver of the economic growth during this period was the private consumption, amid more disposable income (supported by Value-Added Tax and wage increases), improved labour market and low inflation.

And North Korea's statements that it needs nuclear weapons to survive suggest that Kim "does not intend to negotiate them away at any price", Coats said at a Senate intelligence hearing on worldwide threats.

The report also offered assessments devoid of traditional diplomatic obfuscation or niceties. He said Afghan forces will remain dependent on foreign military help to keep from collapsing, and the Taliban will continue to make gains. Coats said Afghan troops suffer from "combat casualties, desertions, poor logistical support and weak leadership".

"Kabul's political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will nearly certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017", he wrote in a 26-page statement summarizing the yearly joint report to Congress by the nation's intelligence agencies delivered ahead of his committee appearance.

Sunni extremists remain the primary terrorist threat to the USA, with home-grown actors posing the biggest concern.

"Outside Iraq and Syria ISIS is seeks to foster interconnectedness among its global branches and networks, align their efforts to a strategy and withstand counter-ISIS efforts". The country's refusal to abandon this work has caused concern on Capitol Hill, as well as among US national security insiders who view the work as related to Iran's aspirations for regional dominance.

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