WASHINGTON (AP)—The Trump administration’s national intelligence director says the U.S. sees Iran working to maintain last year’s nuclear agreement.
Tehran’s rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from U.S. sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities.
Dan Coats tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that the deal extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon.
He cites the Obama administration’s estimates that the timeline has been delayed from a few months to about a year.
Coats also says the deal has enhanced transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities.
But, he says, the U.S. doesn’t know if Iran will eventually decide to try to build nuclear weapons.
Cyber attacks rampant
Director Coats said Russia and other countries, including China, North Korea and Iran, are using cyberspace to target U.S. and its allies, and will do so in future.
Coats says Russia is a threat to U.S. government, military, diplomatic, business and critical infrastructure.
Coats says Iran also is making use of its high-tech capabilities. In 2013, an Iranian hacker intruded into the industrial control system of an American dam. In 2014, there was a data-deletion attack against a U.S.-based casino.
Coats says China is targeting the U.S. government and American businesses. He says such activity has diminished since U.S.-China cyber commitments in 2015.That’s according to National Intelligence, who is testifying Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee.
Afghanistan likely to get worse
The security situation in Afghanistan will continue to deteriorate and the Taliban will make ongoing gains, especially in rural areas, Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee..
Coats says intelligence agencies believe that the performance of Afghan national security forces battling the insurgents will worsen due to weak military leadership, ongoing desertions and combat casualties.
He noted that the Taliban effectively handled its second leadership transition in two years following the death of its former chief, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike. Coats called the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan only a low-level developing threat to Afghan stability.