US Intelligence Report: Iran Pursuing 'Capability to Build Missile-Deliverable Nuclear Weapons'

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee

The remarks from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats come as the Trump administration conducts a comprehensive review of its Iran policy.

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

But he said the USA doesn't know if Iran will eventually decide to try to build nuclear weapons.

"It's clear that we have assessed this as a very significant, potentially existential threat to the United States that has to be addressed", said Coats at a U.S. Senate hearing on world threats.

The U.S. intelligence community is comprised of 17 federal agencies.

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

"Afghanistan will struggle to curb its dependence on external support until it contains the insurgency or reaches a peace agreement with the Taliban", Coats told lawmakers in presenting an annual assessment of threats to U.S. national security.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, also testifying, said that China has been exerting pressure on North Korea "in a way that they have not made before" and has significantly cut coal imports from the country.

The amount of time it would take for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon is estimated to be from a few months to a year.

For the Trump Administration, facing a question whether to increase the USA troop levels in Afghanistan, this can't be good news. "We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons".

US-led forces have been fighting in Afghanistan for 16 years, making it America's longest war, yet the situation there remains a stalemate. "The Taliban are likely to continue to make gains, especially in rural areas", said the United States spy chief, adding that efforts to bolster local military have been less fruitful than hoped. Coats said Afghan troops suffer from "combat casualties, desertions, poor logistical support and weak leadership".

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

"Kabul's political dysfunction and ineffectiveness will nearly certainly be the greatest vulnerability to stability in 2017", he wrote.

But, Coats said also that there is a possibility that chemical weapons could be used again on the Syrian people by the Syrian government and on other countries, too.

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

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