TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

US intel heads list North Korea, not border, as threat to US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Directly contradicting President Donald Trump, U.S. intelligence agencies told Congress on Tuesday that North Korea is unlikely to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, that the Islamic State group remains a threat and that the Iran nuclear deal is working. The chiefs made no mention of a crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border for which Trump has considered declaring a national emergency.

Their analysis stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s almost singular focus on security gaps at the border as the biggest threat facing the United States.

Top security officials including FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats presented an update to the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday on their annual assessment of global threats. They warned of an increasingly diverse range of security dangers around the globe, from North Korean nuclear weapons to Chinese cyberespionage to Russian campaigns to undermine Western democracies.

Coats said intelligence information does not support the idea that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will eliminate his nuclear weapons and the capacity for building more — a notion that is the basis of the U.S. negotiating strategy.

“We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Coats told the committee.

Coats did note that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expressed support for ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and over the past year has not test-fired a nuclear-capable missile or conducted a nuclear test.

The “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report on which Coats based his testimony said U.S. intelligence continues to “observe activity inconsistent with” full nuclear disarmament by the North. “In addition, North Korea has for years underscored its commitment to nuclear arms, including through an order in 2018 to mass-produce weapons and an earlier law — and constitutional change — affirming the country’s nuclear status,” it said.

The report said Kim’s support at his June 2018 Singapore summit with Trump for “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” is a formulation linked to an end to American military deployments and exercises involving nuclear weapons.

Trump asserted after the Singapore summit that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. However, Coats and other intelligence officials made clear they see it differently.

“The capabilities and threat that existed a year ago are still there,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Plans for a follow-up Trump-Kim summit are in the works, but no agenda, venue or date has been announced.

More broadly, the intelligence report on which Coats and the heads of other intelligence agencies based their testimony predicted that security threats to the United States and its allies this year will expand and diversify, driven in part by China and Russia. It says Moscow and Beijing are more aligned than at any other point since the mid-1950s and their global influence is rising even as U.S. relations with traditional allies are in flux.

“Some U.S. allies and partners are seeking greater independence from Washington in response to their perception of changing U.S. policies on security and trade,” the report said, without providing examples or further explanation.

The report also said the Islamic State group “remains a terrorist and insurgent threat” inside Iraq, where the government faces “an increasingly disenchanted public.”

The intelligence assessment, which is provided annually to Congress, made no mention of a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump has asserted as the basis for his demand that Congress finance a border wall. The report predicted additional U.S.-bound migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with migrants preferring to travel in caravans in hopes of a safer journey.

In Syria, where Trump has ordered a full withdrawal of U.S. troops, the government of Bashar Assad is likely to consolidate control, with Russia and Iran attempting to further entrench themselves in Syria, the report said. Asked for her assessment, Haspel said of the IS group: “They’re still dangerous.” She added that they still command “thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”

The intelligence agencies said Iran continues to work with other parties to the nuclear deal it reached with the U.S. and other Western nations. In doing so, they said, it has at least temporarily lessened the nuclear threat. In May 2018, Trump withdrew the U.S. from that accord, which he called a terrible deal that would not stop Iran from going nuclear.

The intelligence assessment of Afghanistan, more than 17 years into a conflict that began after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., projected a continued military stalemate. Without mentioning prospects for a peace deal, which appear to have improved only in recent days, the report said, “neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year” if the U.S. maintains its current levels of support. Trump has ordered a partial pullback of U.S. forces this year, although no firm plan is in place.

Coats told the committee that Russia and perhaps other countries are likely to attempt to use social media and other means to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

“We expect our adversaries and strategic competitors to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections,” the intelligence report said.

The report specifically warned about Russia’s cyberattack capabilities.

“Moscow is now staging cyberattack assets to allow it to disrupt or damage U.S. civilian and military infrastructure during a crisis,” it said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

Biden to campaign as extension of Obama's political movement

BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden is finalizing the framework for a White House campaign…

Words and consequences: A look at the Omar and Trump feud

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn’t backing down from his tweets about Democratic Rep.…

Kim Open to Another Summit with Trump, with Conditions

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is open…

Trump ‘strongly looking’ at releasing migrants in Dem cities

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday he is strongly considering releasing “Illegal Immigrants”…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Governor Ron DeSantis Delivers Remarks at the 58th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion Luncheon

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Today, Governor Ron DeSantis delivered remarks at a luncheon commemorating the…

ORLANDO POLITICS - ONE TO WATCH: Getting to Know Bruno Portigliatti

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - During the 2018 election cycle, I had the opportunity to…

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Award of National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant to Combat Opioid Crisis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday morning in a press release to…

Supervisor Daisy Morales, Commissioners Cordero and Bonilla Celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day at Split Oak Forest

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Orange County District 4 Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero, Orange…

FNN SPORTS

  • Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg (in white) duels with Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan for the ball during the NWSL season opening match at Orlando City Stadium Sunday, April 14, 2019. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.
    ORLANDO (FNN SPORTS) - Orlando Pride Falls 2-0 in Season Opener (Photo: Willie David/Florida National News)

MORE SPORTS NEWS

MATCH RECAP: Pride Shutout by North Carolina Courage

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Pride (0-2-0, 0 points) fell to the defending National Women’s Soccer League…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers announce 2019 regular season schedule

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2019 regular season schedule, released today by the…

Jacksonville Jaguars unveiled 2019 preseason and regular season schedules

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars have unveiled their 2019 preseason and regular season schedules, the…

Orlando Pride Forward Alex Morgan Named to 2019 TIME 100 List

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando Pride and U.S. Women’s…

Orlando Pride Falls 2-0 in Season Opener

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) fell…

2019 Masters: Tiger Woods Storms Leaderboard, Wins Fifth Green Jacket in Furious Finish

AUGUSTA, Ga. (CBS Sports) - As he entered the tee box on No. 18, the…

BUSINESS NEWS

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Bank of America Raising Hourly Minimum Wage to $20

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America plans to raise its starting pay to $20…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Pinterest sets sites on $1.5B in first public share offering

NEW YORK (AP) — Pinterest, among a gaggle of tech companies planning to go public…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Gone in 6 minutes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet’s final journey

From nearly the moment they roared down the runway and took off in their new…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Linda McMahon to exit role at Small Business Administration

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, is…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Facebook charged with housing discrimination by HUD

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government charged Facebook with high-tech housing discrimination Thursday for allegedly…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Apple refreshes iPad lineup, with larger entry-level model

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has unveiled a new iPad that’s thinner and slightly larger…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

  • Jay-Z (Photo: Hello! Magazine)
    NEW YORK (AP) - Jay-Z to Perform at Newly Renovated Webster Hall in NYC (Photo: Hello! Magazine)

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Aretha Franklin makes history with posthumous Pulitzer win

NEW YORK (AP) — Aretha Franklin is still getting R-E-S-P-E-C-T after death: The Queen of…

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

Jay-Z to Perform at Newly Renovated Webster Hall in NYC

NEW YORK, N.Y. (AP) - Jay-Z will help re-open the newly renovated Webster Hall concert…

One Person Killed During Nipsey Hussle Memorial Procession

LOS ANGELES, Ca. (BBC News) - A person has been killed during a memorial procession for…

Netflix launches comedy channel on SiriusXM

NEW YORK (AP) — Netflix is launching its first audio venture that will feature the…

Man wins over $110K, breaks single-day record on ‘Jeopardy!’

CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) — A 34-year-old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas won more…

LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL & TOURISM

  • LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms for 90 Days at Walt Disney World Resort (Photo courtesy Walt Disney World)

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

"Unplanned" Movie Comes to Orlando, Inspired by Conservative Activist Korrie Lupino Stevenson

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, March 27th, Unplanned the movie will be viewed…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Garden Rocks Concert Series Expands to Every Day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, March 6-June 3

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Garden Rocks Concert Series is back – every single day…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

SPECIAL REPORT: Non-Compliance with State Law Plagues Orange County Soil & Water Board

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Florida currently has 58 Soil & Water Conservation Districts which were…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Chairman Daisy Morales Announces New Website for Orange Soil and Water Conservation District

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – After four years of ongoing board meetings and delays to…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Innovative environment joins lineup of new and recently announced enhancements to the Walt Disney World Resort theme park

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2019) – Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort is a…