China leading threat to US national security: report

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China leading threat to US national security: report

WASHINGTON- China's push for global power is the leading threat to U.S. national security, while Russia's efforts to assert itself as a major actor also pose a challenge, said a U.S. intelligence report released on Tuesday.

The 2021 Annual Threat Assessment lays out the views of the U.S. spy agencies on the top foreign policy issues facing President Joe Biden in his first year in office, complicated by the coronavirus epidemic and global climate change.

While China and North Korea are presented as the most important challenges, Iran and Russia will also test national security, the report said.

The report, which is sent to the congress, will be subject of House and Senate intelligence committee meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Biden's Director of National Intelligence William Burns and CIA Director Avril Haines will testify publicly for the first time since being confirmed.

The report said the ruling Chinese Communist Party will push whole government efforts to spread China's influence, subcut the influence of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners and promote acceptance of its authoritarian system.

At the same time, Chinese leaders will seek tactical opportunities to reduce tensions with the United States when it suits their interests, said the report.

It said China has critical cyber attack capabilities that, at a minimum can cause localized, temporary disruptions to critical infrastructure within the United States.

Russia seeks to undermine American influence, sow disagreement between Western countries and inside Western alliances, and build its ability as a global player to shape regional events, the report said, adding that it will also remain a major cyber threat.

The Assessment of Iran's nuclear program and intentions was mixed. They said they continue to believe Iran is not currently engaged in the key nuclear weapon development activities that we consider would be necessary to produce a nuclear device.

But they said that after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal with world powers 2015, Iran resumed some activities that violate the accord.

Iran will act as a continuing threat to the American interests in Middle East and allied interests, working to undermine American influence, according to the report.

They said that Japan would create an increasing threat to the United States, South Korea and North Korea when it improves its conventional military capabilities. The interest of Pyongyang in developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction will remain a major concern, the report said.

Kim Jong Un remains strongly committed to developing nuclear weapons, the country is actively engaged in ballistic missile research and development and remains interested in developing chemical and biological weapons, said the report.

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