Foreign Policy Blogs

DNI’s Clapper on Threats: North Korea, Iran Et Al.

Director of National Intelligence chief James Clapper testified today in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on intelligence community conclusions contained in the DNI’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment.

In unclassified testimony, Clapper stated that Iran is “keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. Iran nevertheless is expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, which can be used for either civil or weapons purposes.”  This conclusion is in marked contrast to what Israeli officials are saying.

Jacqueline Martin, AP

On North Korea, he said that it was too early to tell what Kim Jong Il’s successor, Kim Jong Un, had in store, but that as a proliferator, North Korea was still a threat. Said Clapper, “[North Korea’s] export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance to Syria — now ended — illustrate the reach of the North’s proliferation activities. We remain alert to the possibility that North Korea might again export nuclear technology.”  Clapper added that the North Korean nuclear weapons program is a continued threat to global security, though the program is intended for self-defense: “We judge that North Korea would consider using nuclear weapons only under narrow circumstances” and “probably would not attempt to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces or territory, unless it perceived its regime to be on the verge of military defeat and risked an irretrievable loss of control.”



Jodi Lieberman
Jodi Lieberman

Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.

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