Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Erratic North Korea Poses Serious Threat

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Erratic North Korea Poses Serious Threat

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON An erratic North Korea, with its nuclear weapons and increasingly belligerent tone, poses a serious threat to the United States and East Asia nations, the director of National Intelligence warned Tuesday in the annual accounting of the threats worldwide.

In his extensive overview, James R. Clapper told Congress that a less decentralized terrorist network has significantly altered the threats while the Arab Spring uprising in the Middle East and North Africa has created spikes in the dangers facing American interests in those regions.

The intelligence chief offered a sober assessment of threats from potential cyberattacks, weapons of mass destruction and the months- long civil war in Syria. North Korea, Iran and Syria stirred the most concern as the administration of President Barack Obama and Congress weigh the effectiveness of sanctions against Pyongyang and Tehran.

Clapper testified just days after North Korea's communist regime said it was scuttling the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and has maintained peace on the peninsula for more than half a century. The administration slapped sanctions against North Korea's primary exchange bank and several senior government officials.

North Korea, under its young leader Kim Jong Un, has defied the rest of the world in the last three months, testing a long-range missile and a third nuclear bomb.

"These programs demonstrate North Korea's commitment to develop long-range missile technology that could pose a direct threat to the United States, and its efforts to produce and market ballistic missiles raise broader regional and global security concerns," Clapper told the Senate Intelligence committee.

While the intelligence community has figured that Pyongyang's nuclear efforts are designed for deterrence, worldwide prestige and coercive diplomacy, Clapper conceded that the United States does not know what would be the trigger that would prompt North Korea to act. …

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