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technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. while international pressure against iran have increased including through sanctions, we assessed that tehran is not close to agreeing to abandoning its nuclear program. in iraq, dia assesses the baghdad security forces probably can maintain current security levels this year despite manning shortages and overly centralized command and control. despite perceptions of sectarian violence and a need for logistics, intelligence and tactical communications training, iraq security forces are putting forces on theecurine sites and they are conducting intelligence driven targeting. however, sunni insurgent and shia militant groups likely will remain serious challenges for
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iraq and remaining u.s. personnel until more comprehensive political reconciliation reduces lingering tensions among religious and tribal constituencies. more broadly across the region, popular forces weekend the middle east and north africa are demonstrating the potential to reorder long-standing assumptions, relationship and alliances in a way that invites risk and opportunity for the united states and our allies. arms domestic opponents pose an unprecedented challenge to the al-assad regime in syria and its collapse would have serious implications for iran, hezbollah, hamas and lebanon. turning to asia, north korea's third generation third-generation leadership transition is underway. improving the economy and regime's survival remain enduring leadership rarities. pyongyang's missile programs provide strategic deterrence, international prestige and
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leverage to extract economic and political concessions. while north north korea may abandon portions of its nuclear program for better relations with the united states, it is unlikely to surrender its nuclear weapons. pyongyang's position military can attack south korea with little or no strategic warning but it's a verse from logistic shortages, aging equipment and poor training. pyongyang likely knows he cannot reunite the peninsula by force and is unlikely to attack on a scale that would risk its own survival. we see no sign that the leadership transition has changed the regime's calculus regarding nuclear weapons and the defense intelligence agency retains continued focus on the peninsula to provide warning against additional attacks from the north. china continues to build a more modern military to defend its core interests which are
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territorial sovereignty, national unity and sustained access to economic resources. u.s. forces in a taiwan or south china sea contingency remains a top chinese military priority. investments in naval anti-air and anti-ship capabilities are designed to achieve periodic and local sea and air superiority to include the islands closest to the mainland. once focused on territorial defense, china's air force has developed an offshore strike, missile defense, strategic mobility and early warning and recognizance capability. try china may incorporate that these capabilities in novel ways that present challenges for u.s. forces. last year's first flight of the fifth generation fighter in launch of china's first aircraft carrier underscored the breath and equality of china's military probe i'm however a lack of
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modern combat experience is but one example that steps remain before china achieves the full potential of its new technologies, platforms and military personnel. regarding cyberthreats, we continue to see daily attempts to gain access to our nation's government and business computer networks including our own secure systems. this thread is large and growing in scale and sophistication. finally, al qaeda losses in 2011 have focused a core group and its affiliates in yemen, somalia and north africa on self-preservation and reconstitution. though damaged the group remained committed to transnational attacks in europe and against the united states. al qaeda in the lands of the maghreb for iq i am acquired weapons from libya this year, kidnapped westerners and continue to get support from nigeria-based -- what we have
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made gains outside and its affiliates we remain in a race against their ability to evolve, regenerate leadership and launch attacks. self-radicalization or lone wolf individuals including within the united states and even within our own ranks remain an enduring concern. i would like to close by noting how honored i am to represent the men and women of the defense intelligence agency. remain acutely aware that while much of a plea to his secret our work is always in the public trust. on their behalf i would like to thank the members of this committee for their continued support and confidence in our work. thank you. >> thank you very much general burgess. let's try seven minutes for a first round and i hope there will be time for a second round. director clapper prepared statement said the following in
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terms of the intelligence community's assessment about iran's nuclear program. quote, we assessed iran is keeping open the option of developing nuclear weapons should it choose to do so. we do not know however if iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons and his statement also said that we judge iran's nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach which offers the international community opportunities to influence tehran. general burgess do you agree with that statement of director clapper and his current statement? >> yes, sir and i think it would be very consistent with what the vice-chairman of the joints chiefs and myself along with a couple of other witnesses stated before this committee almost a year and a half ago.
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>> and director clapper, i understand them that what you have said and without general burgess agrees with, is that iran has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons. is that correct? is that still your assessment? >> yes, sir, that is the intelligence communities assessment and that is an option that is still held out i iran and we believe the decision would be made by the supreme leader himself and he would base that on a cost-benefit analysis in terms of, don't think you want a nuclear weapon at any price so that i think plays to the value of sanctions, particularly the recent ratcheting up of more sanctions and in anticipation that will induce a change in their policy and behavior.
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>> is at the intelligence community's assessment that sanctions and other international pressure actually could, not will necessarily, but could influence iran in its decision as to whether to proceed? >> absolutely, sir, and of course the impacts that the sanctions are already having on the iranian economy, the devaluation of the currency, the difficulty they are having and engaging in banking transactions, which will of course increase with the recent provisions of the national defense authorization act. and so, to the extent that the iranian population and the regime then feels threatened in terms of this stability and tenure, you know the thought is that that could change the policy and i think it's interesting that they have
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apparently asked the e.u. for resumption of the five plus one dialogue, and of course there's their nother meeting coming up with the international atomic energy administration, so we will see whether the iranians may be changing their minds. >> i have to tell you i am skeptical about putting any significance in that but nonetheless it's not my testimony that we are here to hear. is your testimony and it's obviously important testimony. director clapper in a recent interview defense secretary panetta said if iran decides to pursue a nuclear weapon capability, quote, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one or two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.
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do you disagree with the defense secretary panetta's assessment? >> no, sir, i don't disagree and with respect to the year, that is i think technically feasible, but practically not likely. and there are all kinds of combinations of implications that could affect how long it might take should the iranians make a decision to pursue a nuclear weapon and how long that might take. i think the details of that are best complex and arcane and sensitive codas of how we know this are best left to closed discussion sessions. >> do you think that the year is perhaps ripe and more likely that it would take longer or is that the implication? >> yes, sir. >> now, "the washington post" columnist recently wrote that a the senior administration
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official believes that an israeli strike against iran was likely this spring. general burgess, in view of the intelligence community has israel decided to attack iran? >> sir, to the best of our knowledge israel has not decided to attack iran. >> i was concerned as i indicated in my own statement director clapper by recent reports of the latest national intelligence reflects a difference in views between the intelligence community and our military commanders. over the security situation in afghanistan and i made reference to who signed up to that difference of views including general allen and ambassador
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crocker,. general allen, ambassador crocker, general mattis, can you tell us whether these reports are accurate and if there is a difference of views on that matter? >> without going into the specifics of classified national intelligence estimate, i can't confirm that they took issue with the nie on three counts having to do with the assumptions that were made about the force structure deal that we gave sufficient weight to pakistan and its impact as a safe haven and generally felt that the nie was pessimistic. i have to say -- >> about other matters as well? speeches generally pessimism in
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afghan and the prospects for posts 2014 and that by the way was the timeframe. is after 2014. if you'll forgive a little histories are i served as an analyst breather for general westmoreland in vietnam in 1966. i kind of lost my professional innocence a little but then when i found out by operational commander sometimes don't agree with their views and the success of their campaign as compared to that perspective displayed by intelligence. fast-forward about 25 years or so when i served as the chief of air force intelligence during desert storm. general schwarzkopf protested long and loud all during the war and after the war about the accuracy of intelligence and the fact that it didn't comport with his view. classically, intelligence is supposedly in the portion of the
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glass is half-empty and operational commanders and policymakers for that matter is the glass is half-full and probably the truth is somewhere somewhere in the water line. so i don't find it a bad thing and in fact i think it's healthy that there is contrast between operational commanders believe and what the intelligence community assesses. >> thank you very much. senator mccain. >> i want to follow up on the chairman's question, so do you believe that post-2014 afghanistan faces extremely difficult challenges? >> yes, sir, i do. and think in terms of governance and the ability of the ansf which is striving hard to train up. there there are some indications that is having success, but i think the afghan government will
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continue to require assistance from the west and another issue is the extent to which we and other coalition members will be able to sustain that support. importantly as well and is the achievement of a strategic partnership agreement with the afghan government, which would premise, be a preface for our continued presence in some form to advise-and-assist in perhaps to assist particularly with counterterrorism. >> and there has been no change in the isi relationship with the haqqani network who are killing americans in afghanistan? >> yes, sir. with respect to the pakistani government and isi is kind of a microcosm of the larger government, their existential threat is india and they view
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everything, they focus on that and their concern is of course sustaining influence and presence in afghanistan and they will probably continue to do that through malicious. >> so our relationship with pakistan must be based on the real assessment that isi's relationship with the haqqani network and other organizations will probably not change? >> yes, sir. i mean there are cases where interests converge. government to government and that relationship and that factoid is reflected in a relationship with isi. >> the secretary panetta publicly stated that israel will decide in april, may or june whether to attack iran's nuclear facilities are not. do you agree with that? >> well, i think he was, that
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was quoted by a columnist. i think general burgess answered that question. we don't believe that this point that they have made a decision to do that. we could have given rise to this simply the fact that the weather becomes better. obviously in the spring and that could be conducive to an attack, but to reemphasize what general burgess said we do not believe they have made such a decision. >> we have seen a very intriguing kind of situation involved here. there have been what is believed to be iranian attacks or attempts to attack worldwide the united states in the case of the saudi ambassador and in georgia india the explosions there now today we read about thailand. does this tell us a number of things including the extent of the iranian worldwide terrorist
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network and that -- this is also tell us there is a covert conflict or war going on between israel and iran? >> well, i think iran is well, two dimensions to this. i think on one count they feel somewhat under siege and on the other hand they are feeling their oats. the iranian lands, they probably view arab spring is a good dating and an opportunity for them to exploit which thus far have not worked to their favor. so, today, through their proxies, particularly decided and made a conscious judgment to reach out against primarily israeli and u.s. interests.
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>> they are displaying some capabilities. >> well, yes sir, to a certain extent, even though the attacks that you reference were not successful in case they blew one of their own up but they regard those as successful because of a psychological impact they have in each one of the countries. >> quickly, in the situation in mexico, do you believe that, as you know 50,000 mexicans have lost their lives as a result of drug-related violence. is your assessment that these violent criminal organizations pose a threat to the united states, including states along the border? >> yes, sir, they do. there is always the prospect of a spillover and that is one reason why we are working closely with the mexican
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government, and that is particularly true with respect to intelligence initiatives and we are working with them, which i have to discuss in closed session but it is a profound threat to both countries. >> have you seen any indication that the top candidates vying to succeed resident calderon will alter the way the mexican government addresses the threat of cartels? >> i believe serve that, i can't do a one by one assessment, but i believe that no matter who succeeds president calderon, they will be committed to continue this campaign. >> well i suggest you look a little more carefully because that may not be the case, at least with one of the candidates. the status quo remains syria with increasing iranian, russian arms and equipment, iranian
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presence and the assistance to assad. what is the outlook as far as the situation in syria is concerned and what is your view? do we and the arab league and other like-minded countries need to do to alter that equation, if it is an apparent stalemate with the massacre continuing? >> well, there are four, we characterize them for pillars of the assad regime. the continued effectiveness of military support, its own military which is quite large. there have been desertions but for the most part, they have engaged about 80% of their maneuver units and assaults on the syrian population. the economy is another pillar
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that has really taken some hits in place of gas in september. food has gone sky high. they have periodic electrical interruptions, so the economy is going south. the state of the opposition, which is quite fragmented, is very localized. the syrian national council really doesn't only control command and control of these oppositions groups. the free syrian army is a separate organization not connected to the syrian national council, and of course the other is the cohesion of the elites. in all we have seen signs of some of the seniors and the assad regime making contingency plans to evacuate and move families and financial resources. to this point they have held
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together. assad himself could probably cause his psychological need to emulate his father, sees no other option but to continue to try to crush the opposition. >> i guess my question sir was, and less something changes as far as assistance from the outside, do you see a continued stalemate in syria? >> i think it would just continue. we don't see any, short of a coup or something like that that assad will hang in there and continue to do as he has done. >> and the massacre continues. thank you mr. chairman. i thank the witnesses who would have been very helpful. >> thank you lieberman. >> director clapper anderal burgess thank you for your extraordinary leadership of the intelligence community and
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protecting your security. director clapper i want to go back to iran for couple a couple of minutes quickly. you said this morning that is your assessment that iran has not made a decision to build a nuclear weapon, but i assume you also believe based on international atomic energy agency reports and in information that the intelligence community has, that iran has taken steps to put them in a position to make a decision to break out and build a nuclear weapon. >> yes, sir, that is a good characterization. >> there are also certain things they have not yet done which i would be happy to discuss in closed session that would be key indicators that they have made such a decision. >> and that they have done things, is it fair to say, that are inconsistent with just wanting to have peaceful nuclear
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energy capacity? >> well, obviously the issue here is the extent to which they produce highly-enriched uranium. you know, they have produced small amounts of higher than 20% highly-enriched uranium h for legitimate, peaceful purposes so if they go beyond that obviously, that would be you know, a negative indicator, put it that way. >> general burgess do you want to answer that at all? >> sir i would agree with what director clapper said and i would agree with your character a saint -- characterization. that is already a leaf and it's not that much of a bigger leap to the bigger 90% that they would need to go to. >> thank you and do you both agree that or is it your
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assessment that if iran makes a decision to nuclear weapons and in fact achieves it, that it is likely to set off a nuclear arms race within the region? in other words saudi arabia will want to also have the nuclear weapon capacity? >> is certainly a possibility sir, absolutely. >> is also fair to say and we talked about the iranian sponsorship of terrorism, that if they did have nuclear weapons capability in their use of terrorism -- in terrorism against regional opponents and the united states? >> yes, sir. it would serve as a deterrent, even a thing to a certain extent the ambiguity that exist now serves a a deterrent. >> okay, thanks. let me go to cybersecurity and
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they thank you very much director clapper for your statement and support for the legislation that senators collins and rockefeller and i introduce. the main intention of the legislation, does a lot of things, but is to create a system where the federal government through the department of homeland security advised and supported if you will by the nsa can work with the private sector to make sure that the private sector is defending itself and our country against cyberattacks? we have spent a lot of time on this and right now, because of the remarkable capacities of the cyberattackers, and the extent to which they can attack privately owned and operated cyberinfrastructure for either economic gains or to literally
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attack our country, that we need to ask the private sector to make investments and to defend themselves and i'm afraid a lot of them are not yet making it. is that gin your general impression? in other words bottom line, do we have a vulnerability? does the privately owned and operated cyberinfrastructure of america have a vulnerability to both economic and perhaps strategic attack? >> sir, the chairman and the ranking member cited the national intelligence at consecutive report that we issued in october which called out both china and russia as our primary concerns and particularly with respect to the chinese and the theft of intellectual property. of course which occurs, much of
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which occurs in private-sector. i know that the bill is quite lengthy, some 270 pages. i have not read it all. the important thing for me was precepts that it addresses including it delineates rules of the various components of government to include the department of homeland security which i believe has an important role to play here. it defines what i feel is a good talents in a relationship with the private sector and how intrusive the government is going to be which is an issue and most importantly to protect civil liberties and privacy. i am sure there are other provisions in the bill that some may take issue with but the precepts i think are important in terms of the balance between protection and our freedom. >> i appreciate very much what you have just said. part of the problem e

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