U.S. intelligence director says North Korea poses serious threat

The U.S. director of National Intelligence recently warned a Senate panel that a nuclear weapon-armed North Korea is a serious threat.

James R. Clapper gave the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee an overview of how the U.S. intelligence apparatus views the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, cyber attacks, the Syrian civil war and North Korea's increasingly hostile rhetoric, according to News.com.au.

"The Intelligence community has long assessed that, in Pyongyang's view, its nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy," Clapper said, News.com.au reports. "We do not know Pyongyang's nuclear doctrine or employment concepts. Although we assess with low confidence that the North would only attempt to use nuclear weapons against US forces or allies to preserve the Kim regime, we do not know what would constitute, from the North's perspective, crossing that threshold."

Clapper discussed the intelligence community's views as put forth in a recent report, saying North Korea's commitment to develop long-range missile technology could pose a direct threat to the United States, and its efforts to produce and market ballistic missiles raise security concerns, according to News.com.au.

With regards to Iran's suspected nuclear program, Clapper said Tehran has made significant progress towards producing weapons grade uranium. The report noted, however, that it would not be able to divert safeguarded material and produce a significant quantity of the material before it was discovered.