China, Russia, Iran cited by US govt as biggest 'national security threats'
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China, Russia, Iran cited by US govt as biggest 'national security threats'

Titled "Long-range emerging threats facing the United States," the report was compiled by the Washington-based Government Accountability Office. It polled four US federal agencies to come up with the 26 worst threats as identified by the US Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), The National Interest news outlet reported. Pointing to “Chinese global expansion,” the report alleged: "China is marshalling its diplomatic, economic, and military resources to facilitate its rise as a regional and global power." "This may challenge US access to air, space, cyberspace, and maritime domains,” it further added, emphasizing: “China's use of cyberspace and electronic warfare could impact various US systems and operations." Describing “Russian global expansion,” it then accused Moscow of “increasing its capability to challenge the United States across multiple warfare domains, including attempting to launch computer-based directed energy attacks against US military assets.” “Russia is also increasing its military and political presence in key locations across the world," it further underlined, without noting that many of Russian military moves come in response to similar measures by the US-led NATO military alliance near its borders and elsewhere. The report then points to Iran as the third biggest threat to American interests, accusing the Islamic Republic of “expanding the size and capabilities of its military and intelligence forces, as well as developing technology that could be used to build ICBMs and cyber warfare.” This is while Washington and its European allies have repeatedly resorted to hostile political and economic measures to force Iran to give up its advanced, home-grown missile technology developed as a purely defensive force following the destructive Iraqi-imposed war on the country in the 1980s in which the country faced an international weapons ban led by major powers such as the US, Western Europe and the former Soviet Union. The report further named North Korea as the fourth major threat, citing its development of ICBMs that can strike North America. It also identified unstable governments, terrorism, extremism and political instability in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean as the fifth biggest threat against American interests, claiming that they “could tax US resources needed for counter-terrorism and humanitarian relief.” Terrorism was listed as the sixth major threat to the United states in the report, saying: "Terrorists could advance their tactics, including building nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or increase their use of online communications to reach new recruits and disseminate propaganda." The next 20 biggest threats to America were identified as follows: New adversaries and private corporations. New states could arise that threaten the US Interestingly, the GAO report worries about "private corporations obtaining resources that could grant them more influence than states." Information operations. Adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran will take advantage of social media, artificial intelligence and data crunching to wage information warfare. Artificial intelligence. AI will allow adversaries to design better weapons. Quantum communications. Quantum technology could result in communications that can't be intercepted or decoded by US intelligence, while also making US communications more vulnerable to interception. Internet of Things. Networks that control critical infrastructure, such as the power grid, are vulnerable. Drones. "Adversaries are developing autonomous capabilities that could recognize faces, understand gestures, and match voices of US personnel, which could compromise US operations," GAO said. "Unmanned ground, underwater, air, and space vehicles may be used for combat and surveillance." Biotechnology. States, terrorists and criminals could use DNA modification to create super-soldiers. Emerging technologies. New technologies such as 3-D printing, which could allow terrorists to manufacture weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. More actors are developing them. Electronic warfare. Other nations are developing technology that can disrupt US communications, computers and satellite networks. Hypersonic weapons. Russia and China are developing Mach-5-plus weapons that can penetrate U.S. anti-missile defenses. Significantly, the report notes that "there are no existing countermeasures" to these weapons. Counterspace weapons. In addition to Russian effort, "China is developing capabilities to conduct large-scale anti-satellite strikes using novel physical, cyber, and electronic warfare means." Missiles. Not just land- and sea-based missiles, but also "space-based missiles that could orbit the earth." Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. Future advances in AI, sensors, data analytics, and space-based platforms could create an environment of "ubiquitous ISR," where people and equipment could be tracked throughout the world in near-real time. Aircraft. China and Russia are developing faster and longer-ranged aircraft, including stealth aircraft. Undersea weapons. "Russia has made significant advancements in submarine technology and tactics to escape detection by US forces. China is developing underwater acoustic systems that could coordinate swarm attacks—the use of large quantities of simple and expendable assets to overwhelm opponents—among vehicles and provide greater undersea awareness." Cyber weapons. In addition to Russia and China, Iran and North Korea are developing cyber attack capabilities that could target a variety of systems, such as air traffic control or health care. Infectious diseases. Climate change, and increased global travel, could spread drug-resistant pandemics. Climate change. More extreme weather, such as more frequent hurricanes and droughts, and rising sea levels could disrupt food and energy supplies. Melting Arctic ice is opening new sea routes in the north, "potentially increasing Russian and Chinese access to the region and challenging the freedom of navigation that the United States currently has." Mass migration. Disasters, whether natural or man-made, will spur population flows that could strain US military and civilian resources.

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