U.S. intelligence: China maneuvering to expand global influence, undercut Washington

China’s leaders see competition with the US “as part of an epoch-making geopolitical change,” and see sanctions and other economic countermeasures put in place during the Trump administration “as part of a broader US effort to stem China’s rise,” the said Annual Intelligence Threat Assessment that top officials will submit to Congress this week.

The report focuses on the intersection of international issues – including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and organized crime – that will challenge US security and leadership, and focuses on Russia, North Korea and Iran as the other adversaries Who are most concerned about the latter are ready to take new measures to develop a nuclear weapon.

China intends to at least double its nuclear weapon stocks over the next decade, pursue overseas military facilities and bases, and continue to “secure what it sees as its territory,” the report said. Chinese leaders will continue to urge officials in Taiwan to “move closer to unification,” and tensions will mount as Beijing intensifies efforts to portray the country as isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity predicted it.

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China will seek to expand its influence by promoting its massive belt and road infrastructure initiative while trying to reduce litter and exploitation practices that have sparked international criticism, the report said. US and other officials have accused China of locking developing countries into infrastructure projects they cannot afford and hiring them as a developer and lender to Beijing.

Intelligence officials will present their results to the Intelligence Oversight Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday and Thursday. This marks the resumption of annual high-level statements that were put on hold during the Trump administration.

Assessment of Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon is likely to draw legislative scrutiny. The intelligence report found that Iran is not currently engaged in any significant nuclear weapon manufacturing activities and upheld an earlier ruling by the espionage agencies while the Biden government attempts to resume a nuclear deal with Iran.

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As a sign of how quickly the news services could be overtaken by the events hours before the report was released, a senior Iranian official announced a significant increase in the country’s uranium enrichment to 60 percent purity, a defiant move that followed a power outage on the enrichment plant, which Iran called an act of sabotage.

The incident was largely attributed to Israel.

After the Trump administration withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in May 2018, Iran abandoned some of its commitments and resumed some activities that exceeded the limits set by the deal, intelligence agencies said. It concluded that if Iran did not receive sanctions relief – which was part of the original deal, officials would likely consider taking steps to develop a nuclear device.

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Enriching uranium over 60 percent was one such move, along with the planning and construction of a new heavy water reactor, the report said. Last year the Iranian parliament passed a law requiring the construction of a new reactor.

The intelligence services are assessed at a time when diplomacy is at stake. The US and Iran started indirect talks in Vienna last week to revive the nuclear deal.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “the United States was in no way implicated in the incident at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility” and said Tehran had “no evidence of any” in participating in negotiations to reopen the deal Change given “.

The intelligence report noted that “Iran will pose an ongoing threat to the interests of the US and the allies in the region” if it tries to undermine US influence and consolidate its own. While Iran remains interested in building terrorist networks within the United States, Americans are at greater threat from abroad and from aggressive Iranian cyberattacks that the country has targeted its opponents’ critical infrastructure, the report said. For example, it pointed to several cyber attacks against Israeli water supplies between April and July 2020, citing press reports but not confirming the accounts.

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The new report also describes how Russia continues its efforts to undermine US influence and weaken relations with European allies.

Russia is seen as ready to form pragmatic alliances to serve its interests, including with the US. However, it continues to meddle in foreign policy to expand its own sphere of influence, the report said.

“Moscow is well positioned to strengthen its role in the Caucasus, to intervene in Belarus if it deems it necessary, and to continue destabilizing Ukraine.” Russian troops have rallied on the border of this country at the highest level in years.

The secret services “also judge that Russia does not want a direct conflict with the US armed forces”. On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Minister described the troop presence as a security drill in response to what he called NATO aggression and said the maneuvers would take another two weeks.

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The US intelligence report calls North Korea a “threat to the foreseeable future” as it develops conventional military capabilities as well as nuclear weapons. While the Trump administration sought to reset ties with Pyongyang, the report concludes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “remains deeply committed to the country’s nuclear weapons,” noting that “the country is actively exploring and Development of ballistic missiles is involved “.

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