US intelligence director warns of more Russian cyberthreats

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.

The director of national intelligence said Russian Federation and other countries, including China, North Korea and Iran, were using cyberspace to target United States and its allies, and will do so in future.

Coats' assessment of the worldwide threats facing the USA, delivered before a rare public hearing before the Senate intelligence committee, also predicted that the political and security situation in Afghanistan will "almost certainly deteriorate through 2018", even if there is a modest boost in military assistance from the United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Such "influence operations" will continue in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, he said. He noted ISIS' proven ability to direct and inspire attacks over a wide range of targets around the world. "The continuation of the Syrian conflict will worsen already distrous conditions for Syrians and regional states".

"It's a great threat to our democratic process", said Coats. He said that as ISIS is pushed from its stronghold of Mosul, it is preparing to regroup and continue an insurgency.

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"The intelligence community assesses that the political and security situation in Afghanistan will nearly certainly deteriorate through 2018, even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners", he said. "These capabilities will give Moscow more options to counter U.S. forces and weapons systems". But he warned that "left unchecked, that stalemate will deteriorate in the favor of belligerence". 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. Coats called the Islamic State's branch in Afghanistan only a low-level developing threat to Afghan stability. Stewart noted that North Korea has expressed the goal of creating an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tipped with a miniaturized nuclear weapon, and each test comes with progress towards that explicit goal.

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

"We have to put it into context: This is not new", said CIA Director Michael Pompeo. The document notes that China, Iran and North Korea, as well as terrorists and criminals, are also threats.

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

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

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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