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US intelligence warns of devastating impact of pandemic

2021-04-14T03:13:59.324Z

The intelligence community's annual threat report assesses possible consequences of COVID-19 on the economy and stability.



US intelligence warns of effects of covid-19 0:55

Washington (CNN) -

The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to fracture societies around the world, increase instability across the globe and reshape political and economic realities for years to come, the American intelligence community warned in a tough report outlining the main security problems facing the country.

“The economic consequences of the pandemic are likely to create or worsen instability in at least a few countries, and perhaps many, as people grow more desperate in the face of multiple pressures including persistent economic recessions, job losses and supply chains disrupted, ”the report warns.

This bleak economic outlook increases the risk of internal conflicts, increased migration between countries and even the collapse of national governments, authorities warn.

  • Climate and covid: two major factors are worsening the migration crisis on the southern border of Mexico and in the United States

The report, known as the Annual Threat Assessment, is usually released annually.

But bitter disputes between the Trump administration and Congress kept the 2020 report on lockdown, making Tuesday's post one of the first public glimpses of the intelligence community's assessment of the long-term impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.

It also offers grim warnings about covert influence operations by Russia and China, and a first assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions since President Joe Biden took office and in his attempt to renegotiate an updated version of the 2015 nuclear deal that the Former President Donald Trump left in 2018.

Impact of the covid-19 pandemic

The outlook is not pretty.

Officials warn that in addition to the obvious humanitarian concerns associated with the pandemic, such as food shortages and unequal access to medicine, the virus is also reconfiguring the security calculus of nations like Russia and China, which they are trying to take advantage of. the crisis to increase its geopolitical influence.

They both try to gain an advantage through vaccine diplomacy.

The report notes that Beijing is also using its global healthcare efforts to export its surveillance tools and technologies.

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Latin America turns to China and Russia for vaccine 3:53

The report also contends that we still cannot breathe easy despite rapid advances in vaccine development.

The virus will remain a threat "to populations around the world until vaccines and treatments are widely distributed," he warns.

And the resurgence of infections earlier this year "may have an even greater economic impact, as struggling businesses in the worst-hit sectors, such as tourism and restaurants, are closed and governments face mounting budgetary strains." .

In a quiet echo of recent history, the 2019 Threat Assessment forewarned of a pandemic.

He then assessed that “the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next influenza pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the global economy, drain international resources, and increase requests for support from the United States.

Russia and China

The report also issues an unequivocal warning about Russian activity, saying that Moscow "presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States."

He confirms the operations of influence against the 2020 elections, noting that Moscow "almost certainly sees the US elections as an opportunity to try to undermine the US global position, sow discord within the United States, influence the US decision-making and influencing US voters. '

  • UK Points to Russia as Its Biggest Security Threat, Issues Warning on China

That this conclusion appeared in an annual threat assessment quietly demonstrates an immediate departure from the battle over intelligence assessments under the Trump administration, when officials faced the inevitable retaliation from Trump every time they made the information public. on Russian electoral interference.

China, intelligence leaders warn, also "poses a growing threat of influence" in the United States.

This claim may provide some political cover for former Trump administration officials who tried to portray China as the biggest counterintelligence threat during the 2020 elections. Documents later declassified showed that China "considered but did not exert efforts to influence destined to change the result of the presidential elections of the United States.

However, “Beijing has stepped up efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its political preferences, shape public discourse, pressure political figures that Beijing believes oppose its interests, and dampen criticism of China on issues. such as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, "says the report.

Iran

The report notes that the intelligence community believes that Iran is not currently taking the steps it deems necessary to build a nuclear weapon, but has resumed some activities that violate the terms of the 2015 agreement signed by both countries.

“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently carrying out the key nuclear weapons development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device.

However, following the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, Iranian officials have abandoned some of Iran's commitments and have resumed some nuclear activities that exceed the limits of the JCPOA, "says the report.

Iran limits surprise nuclear inspections 1:52

The intelligence community report also offered a clear warning to Biden as he faces pressure not to reduce sanctions on Iran in favor of a broader deal.

"The leaders of the regime will likely be reluctant to enter into diplomatic talks with the United States in the short term without sanctions or humanitarian relief or without the United States rejoining the JCPOA," they said.

"Iran remains committed to countering pressure from the United States, although Tehran is also wary of getting fully involved in a conflict," the report added.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal, unleashing waves of crippling sanctions on Iran.

A year later, Tehran began to gradually withdraw from its commitments to the nuclear deal, resuming parts of its uranium enrichment program.

But Biden has promised to return to the JCPOA.

For months, Tehran and Washington have been at odds over who should get back to the historic deal first: Iran says it will not stop enrichment before the United States lifts all sanctions, and the United States has accused Iran of intransigence.

Extremism at the national level

Biden: The biggest threat is domestic terrorism 0:36

The US intelligence community warns that domestic extremists who are not connected to or inspired by foreign terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS "pose a heightened threat" to the United States, according to the report.

Internal extremists are motivated by a series of ideologies that "reflect an increasingly complex threat landscape, including racially or ethnically motivated threats and anti-government or anti-authoritarian threats," the report says.

“Of these, violent extremists who embrace an often overlapping mix of beliefs of white supremacism, neo-Nazism and exclusive cultural nationalism have the most persistent transnational connections through often weak online communities with individuals and groups related in the West.

The threat of this very diffuse movement has had its ups and downs for decades, but it has increased since 2015, ”he adds.

White supremacists have been responsible "for at least 26 deadly attacks that killed more than 141 people and for dozens of failed attacks in the West since 2015," the report says.

"Although these extremists often see themselves as part of a larger global movement, most of the attacks have been carried out by individuals or small independent cells," he adds.

"Australia, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom view violent extremists with white racial or ethnic motives, including neo-Nazi groups, as the fastest growing terrorist threat they face."

CNN reported last month that the summary of a new joint US intelligence assessment stated that "the narratives of fraud in the recent general election" and "the encouraging impact of the violent break-in on the US Capitol. .UU. »

they will "almost certainly" encourage domestic extremists to try to engage in further acts of violence this year.

  • Why Extremism Experts Fear The Capitol Attack Is Just The Beginning

That summary was released the same day that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers that domestic violent extremism is the "greatest threat" to the United States, a stark reminder that federal officials remain deeply concerned. due to the possibility of more violence in the coming months.

«The most recent sociopolitical events, such as the fraud narratives in the recent general elections, the impact of the violent breakthrough in the US Capitol, the conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conspiracy theories that They promote violence will almost certainly incite some (internal violent extremists) to try to engage in violence this year, ”reads the unclassified summary.

Threats China White Extremism Intelligence Report Iran Russia

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-04-14

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