US spy chief says Russia, China are biggest threats

US spy chief says Russia, China are biggest threats

Russia and China pose the biggest espionage and cyber attack threats to the US and are closer than they have been in decades, Donald Trump’s top spy chief warned.

As the two superpowers expand their greatest ever global reach, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also revealed some traditional allies are now distancing themselves from Washington, The Sun reports.

“China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways — to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure,” he warned.

“Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it’s been in many decades,” Mr Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on worldwide threats, where he testified alongside the director of the CIA, FBI and other top intelligence officials.

He also said some US allies are seeking more independence, responding to their perceptions of changing policies on security and trade and “are becoming more open” to new partnerships.

“The post-World War Two international system is coming under increasing strain amid continuing cyber and WMD proliferation threats, competition in space and regional conflicts,” Mr Coats said, using the acronym for weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Coats also said US adversaries are probably already looking to interfere in the 2020 US election, refining their capabilities and adding new cyber tactics.

He said Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating global social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticising any politicians perceived to be anti-Russia.

Senator Mark Warner, the panel’s top Democrat, said he was particularly concerned about Russia’s use of social media “to amplify divisions in our society and to influence our democratic processes” and the threat from China in the technology arena.

The US on Monday announced criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, escalating a fight with the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker and coming days before trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

Mr Coats went on to say North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and has continued activity inconsistent with Kim Jong-un’s pledges to denuclearise.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission

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