US Intel chiefs Tuesday contradict President Trump on danger posed by ISIS, North Korea and other global threats
FBI director Christopher Wray, CIA chief Gina Haspel, Daniel Coats, director of National Intelligence, and General Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday
The assessment provided to lawmakers by NIS and CIA directly contradicted claims made by President Trump
Coats, Gaspel and the heads of other intelligence agencies predicted that security threats to the United States and its allies will expand and diversify in 2019, driven in part by China and Russia
FBI director Christopher Wray [left], CIA chief Gina Haspel [2nd Left],, Daniel Coats [2nd Right], director of National Intelligence, and General Robert Ashley [Right], director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testify before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Heads of several intelligence agencies on Tuesday directly contradicted President Trump’s claims about North Korea and Iran in a new assessment about nuclear developments in the two countries.
The assessment provided to lawmakers by the likes of Daniel Coats, the director of National Intelligence, and CIA chief Gina Haspel directly contradicted claims made by President Trump.
The Intelligence agencies in their report diverge from the ballyhooed statement of the Trump administration that ISIS has been defeated. They believe that ISIS is very much alive and would continue seeking ways to inflict damage on US and Western allies.
Significantly the annual intelligence assessment does not mention potential and imminent danger at the borders, in divergence with the White House.
Top leaders of the intelligence community on Tuesday also directly contradicted President Trump’s claims about North Korea and Iran in a new assessment about nuclear developments in the two countries.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats threw cold water on the idea that North Korea will fully get rid of nuclear weapon stockpiles, stating that the hermit nation views these capabilities as key to its survival.
“We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities,” Coats told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the panel’s worldwide threats hearing.
The country is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” he continued.
The intelligence assessment appears to dismiss the possibility that the Trump administration can reach its stated goal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking on behalf of the other officials at the hearing, Coats said the intelligence community also found that Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities.
“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 said in an opening statement.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats – “We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities”
The Washington Post reports that Russian officials reportedly, made a secret proposal to North Korea last fall aimed at resolving deadlocked negotiations with the Trump administration over its nuclear weapons program, said U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.
In exchange for dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Moscow offered the country a nuclear power plant.
The Russian offer, which intelligence officials became aware of in late 2018, marks a new attempt by Moscow to intervene in the high-stakes nuclear talks as it reasserts itself into a string of geopolitical flash points from the Middle East to South Asia to Latin America.
L-R: Richard Burr [R-Okla], Chairman and Mark Warner [D-Va] Vice Chairman Senate Intelligence Committee
As a part of the deal, the Russian government would operate the plant and transfer all byproducts and waste back to Russia, reducing the risk that North Korea uses the power plant to build nuclear weapons while providing the impoverished country a new energy source.
“The Russians are very opportunistic when it comes to North Korea, and this is not the first time they’ve pursued an energy stake in Korea,” said Victor Cha, a former White House staff member who the Trump administration considered nominating last year to serve as U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
“Previous administrations have not welcomed these Russian overtures, but with Trump, you never know because he doesn’t adhere to traditional thinking,” Cha said.
“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” the intelligence community assessment reads.
The assessment warns that Iranian officials are threatening to begin building up the country’s nuclear capabilities if Tehran “does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected” from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an Obama-era deal that Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.
“However, Iranian officials have publicly threatened to reverse some of Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commitments — and resume nuclear activities that the JCPOA limits — if Iran does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected from the deal,” the assessment reads.
In the case of the Korean Peninsula, Trump is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the second time in February . The President has downplayed the nuclear threat from North Korea and has repeatedly praised the dictator following their first sitdown last summer.
Donald Trump has been increasingly upbeat about another round of talks and frustrated by what he views as unfair media coverage of his diplomacy. While he touts North Korea’s suspension of missile launches and nuclear tests, critics have noted a lack of steps on the part of Pyongyang to reduce its nuclear capability.
Moscow and Beijing are more aligned than at any other point since the mid-1950s, according to their report.
In the Middle East, the report maintains that the Islamic State group “remains a terrorist and insurgent threat” inside Iraq, where the government faces “an increasingly disenchanted public.”
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.
“They’re still dangerous,” Haspel said, adding that they still command “thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”