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US Officials: North Korea poses serious threat

Published 10:44am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — An unpredictable North Korea, with its nuclear weapons and missile programs, stands as a serious threat to the United States and East Asia nations, the director of National Intelligence warned Tuesday in a sober assessment of worldwide threats.

Testifying before a Senate panel, James R. Clapper delivered the U.S. intelligence community’s overview of global threats posed by terrorism, cyber attacks, weapons of mass destruction, the months-long civil war in Syria and the unsettled situation in post-Arab Spring nations.

The outlook on North Korea comes as the communist regime announced that it was “completely scrapping” the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and has maintained peace on the peninsula for more than half a century. The Obama administration on Monday slapped new sanctions against North Korea’s primary exchange bank and several senior government officials as it expressed concern about the North’s “bellicose rhetoric.”

“The Intelligence community has long assessed that, in Pyongyang’s view, its nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy. We do not know Pyongyang’s nuclear doctrine or employment concepts,” Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Although we assess with low confidence that the North would only attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces or allies to preserve the Kim regime, we do not know what would constitute, from the North’s perspective, crossing that threshold.

North Korea, led by its young leader Kim Jong Un, has defied the international community in the last three months, testing an intercontinental ballistic missile and a third nuclear bomb.

Pressed on North Korea, Clapper said he was “very concerned about the actions of the new young leader.” He described the talk emanating from Pyongyang as “very belligerent.”

“The rhetoric, while propaganda-laced, is an indicator of their attitude,” Clapper said.


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