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07 February 2008


Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National

for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

5 February 2008

J. Michael McConnell
Director of National Intelligence

February 5, 2008
Chairman Rockefeller, Vice-Chairman Bond, Members of
the Committee, thank you for the invitation to offer my
assessment of threats to US national security.
I am pleased to be accompanied today by General Michael
Hayden, Director of CIA, General Michael Maples, Director of
DIA, Mr. Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, and Mr. Randall
Fort, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research.
In addition to this unclassified Statement for the Record, I will
submit a classified Statement and make an oral presentation to
the Committee.
Before I talk about specific threats, I want to raise an issue
of immediate importance for the functioning of the Intelligence
Community and protection of the nation. The authorities
granted by the Protect America Act (PAA)—which temporarily
closed gaps in our intelligence collection and allowed the
Intelligence Community to conduct foreign intelligence
surveillance—are critical to our intelligence efforts to protect
the Nation from current threats. Briefly, some of the most
important benefits include:
• Better understanding of international al-Qa’ida networks;
• Greater insight into future terrorist plans that have allowed
us to disrupt attacks;
• More extensive knowledge of instructions to foreign
terrorist associate about entering the United States
• Information on efforts to obtain guns and ammunition
• Knowledge on terrorist money transfers.
Expiration of the Act would lead to the loss of important
tools the Intelligence Community relies on to discover the plans
of our enemies. As reflected in your Committee report, merely
extending the PAA without addressing retroactive liability
protection for the private sector will likely have far reaching
consequences for the Intelligence Community. At the request
of members of Congress, I have provided letters discussing
these matters in greater depth.
I know that this bill required intense, sustained hard work
of the Committee's Members and staff in a very technical and
complex area to ensure a product that reflected member
concerns raised about the Protect America Act, but preserved
key operational needs of speed and agility in tracking hard to
find enemies intent on harming our country. Over the past
several weeks, proposals to modify the Senate Intelligence
Committee bill have been discussed and I would ask Members
to consider the impacts of such proposals on our Nation's
Intelligence Community and its ability to warn leaders of threats
to our Homeland and our interests. As my testimony will
describe, the threats we face are global, complex, and
dangerous; we must have the tools to enable the detection and
disruption of terrorist plots and other threats.
For almost two years, senior leaders of the IC have testified
in both open and closed hearings about the critical role of
private parties in ensuring our citizens are safe, and the need to
provide liability protection to those who provided assistance
after the attacks of September 11. If we are not able to address
this issue, I believe it will severely degrade the capabilities of
our Intelligence Community to carry out its core missions of
providing warning and protecting the country.
In turning to the threats, the judgments that I will offer the
Committee in these documents and in my responses to your
questions are based on the efforts of thousands of patriotic,
highly skilled professionals, many of whom serve in harm’s
way. I am proud to lead the world’s best Intelligence
Community and pleased to report that it is even better than it
was last year as a result of the continuing implementation of
reforms required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
Prevention Act of 2004. This Statement is, in part, a product of
our moving forward with the transformation of US intelligence,
including more innovative and rigorous analysis and wider and
more far-reaching collaboration.
You will see from the testimony that many of the key
topics I touch on are not traditional “national security” topics.
Globalization has broadened the number of threats and
challenges facing the United States. For example, as
government, private sector, and personal activities continue to
move to networked operations and our digital systems add ever
more capabilities, our vulnerability to penetration and other
hostile cyber actions grows. The nation, as I indicated last year,
requires more from our Intelligence Community than ever
before and consequently we need to do our business better, both
internally, through greater collaboration across disciplines and
externally, by engaging more of the expertise available outside
the Intelligence Community.
Many of the analytic judgments I present here have
benefited from the increasing integration of collection and
analysis. Our systematic effort to synchronize requirements
across the national intelligence, defense, Homeland security and
federal law enforcement communities ensures collection assets
will be better utilized and the collection community will be able
to mount efforts to fill the gaps and needs of analysts. This
more integrated Community approach to analysis and collection
requirements is part of my plan to transition the IC from a
federation of independent intelligence organization to a more
integrated enterprise; the beginning results of this new approach
are reflected in the more nuanced and deeper analysis of the
challenges and threats facing the US.
Against this backdrop, I will focus my statement on the
following issues:
• The continuing global terrorist threat, but also the setbacks
the violent extremist networks are experiencing;
• The significant gains in Iraqi security since this time last
year and the developing political and economic
• The continuing challenges facing us in Afghanistan and in
Pakistan, where many of our most important interests
• The persistent threat of WMD-related proliferation:
o Despite halting progress towards denuclearization,
North Korea continues to maintain nuclear weapons;
o Despite the halt through at least mid-2007 to Iran’s
nuclear weapons design and covert uranium conversion
and enrichment-related work, Iran continues to pursue
fissile material and nuclear-capable missile delivery
• The vulnerabilities of the US information infrastructure to
increasing cyber attacks by foreign governments, nonstate
actors and criminal elements;
• The growing foreign interest in counterspace programs that
could threaten critical US military and intelligence
• Issues of political stability and of national and regional
conflict in Europe, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, and
• Growing humanitarian concerns stemming from the rise in
food and energy prices for poorer states;
• Concerns about the financial capabilities of Russia, China,
and OPEC countries and the potential use of their market
access to exert financial leverage to achieve political ends.
Let me start by highlighting a few of our top successes in
the past year. Most importantly, there was no major attack
against the United States or most of our European, Latin
American, East Asia allies and partners. This was no accident.
Last summer, for example, with our allies, we unraveled
terrorist plots linked to al-Qa’ida and its associates in Denmark
and Germany. We were successful because we were able to
identify key plotters. We worked with our European partners to
monitor the plotters and disrupt their activities. In addition, our
partners throughout the Middle East and elsewhere continued to
attack aggressively terrorist networks recruiting, training, and
planning to strike American interests. The death last week of
Abu Layth al-Libi, al-Qa'ida’s charismatic senior military
commander and a key link between al-Qa’ida and its affiliates
in North Africa, is the most serious blow to the group’s top
leadership since the December 2005 death of then external
operations chief Hamza Rabi’a.
Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) suffered major setbacks last year,
although it still is capable of mounting lethal attacks. Hundreds
of AQI leadership, operational, media, financial, logistical,
weapons, and foreign fighter facilitator cadre have been killed
or captured. With much of the Sunni population turning against
AQI, its maneuver room and ability to operate have been
severely constrained. AQI’s attack tempo, as measured by
numbers of suicide attacks, had dropped by more than half by
year’s end after approaching all time highs in early 2007. We
see indications that al-Qa’ida’s global image is beginning to
lose some of its luster; nonetheless, we still face multifaceted
terrorist threats.
AL-QA’IDA Al-Qa’ida and its terrorist affiliates continue to pose
significant threats to the United States at home and abroad, and
al-Qa’ida’s central leadership based in the border area of
Pakistan is its most dangerous component. Last July, we
published a National Intelligence Estimate titled, “The Terrorist
Threat to the US Homeland,” which assessed that al-Qa’ida’s
central leadership in the past two years has been able to
regenerate the core operational capabilities needed to conduct
attacks in the Homeland:
• Al-Qa’ida has been able to retain a safehaven in Pakistan’s
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that provides
the organization many of the advantages it once derived
from its base across the border in Afghanistan, albeit on a
smaller and less secure scale. The FATA serves as a staging
area for al-Qa’ida’s attacks in support of the Taliban in
Afghanistan as well as a location for training new terrorist
operatives, for attacks in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa,
Europe and the United States.
• Using the sanctuary in the border area of Pakistan, al-Qa’ida
has been able to maintain a cadre of skilled lieutenants
capable of directing the organization’s operations around the
world. It has lost many of its senior operational planners
over the years, but the group’s adaptable decisionmaking
process and bench of skilled operatives have enabled it to
identify effective replacements.
• Al-Qa’ida’s top leaders Usama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-
Zawahiri continue to be able to maintain al-Qa’ida’s unity
and its focus on their strategic vision of confronting our
allies and us with mass casualty attacks around the globe.
Although security concerns preclude them from the day-today
running of the organization, Bin Ladin and Zawahiri
regularly pass inspirational messages and specific
operational guidance to their followers through public
• Al-Qa’ida is improving the last key aspect of its ability to
attack the US: the identification, training, and positioning
of operatives for an attack in the Homeland. While
increased security measures at home and abroad have
caused al-Qa’ida to view the West, especially the US, as a
harder target, we have seen an influx of new Western
recruits into the tribal areas since mid-2006.
We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to
continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and
infrastructure targets designed to produce mass casualties,
visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks,
and/or fear among the population.
We judge use of a conventional explosive to be the most
probable al-Qa’ida attack scenario because the group is
proficient with conventional small arms and improvised
explosive devices and is innovative in creating capabilities and
overcoming security obstacles. That said, al-Qa’ida and other
terrorist groups are attempting to acquire chemical, biological,
radiological, and nuclear weapons and materials (CBRN). We
assess al-Qa’ida will continue to try to acquire and employ
these weapons and materials; some chemical and radiological
materials and crude weapons designs are easily accessible, in
our judgment.
AL-QA’IDA AFFILIATES Al-Qa’ida’s affiliates from Africa to Southeast Asia also
pose a significant terrorist threat. I will discuss the success we
are having against al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) as part of the larger
discussion of the Intelligence Community’s analysis of the Iraq
situation, but here I would like to highlight that AQI remains al-
Qa’ida’s most visible and capable affiliate. I am increasingly
concerned that as we inflict significant damage on al-Qa’ida in
Iraq, it may shift resources to mounting more attacks outside of
Although the ongoing conflict in Iraq will likely absorb
most of AQI’s resources over the next year, AQI has leveraged
its broad external networks—including some reaching into
Europe—in support of external operations. It probably will
continue to devote some effort towards honoring Bin Ladin’s
request in 2005 that AQI attempt to strike the United States,
affirmed publicly by current AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri in
a November 2006 threat against the White House.
• AQI tactics, tradecraft, and techniques are transmitted on
the Internet, but AQI documents captured in Iraq suggest
that fewer than 100 AQI terrorists have moved from Iraq to
establish cells in other countries.
AQIM. Al-Qa’ida’s other robust affiliate, al-Qa’ida in the
Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is the most active
terrorist group in northwestern Africa. We assess it represents a
significant threat to US and European interests in the region.
AQIM has continued to focus primarily on Algerian
Government targets, but since its merger with al-Qa’ida in
September 2006, the group has expanded its target set to include
US, UN, and other interests. AQIM likely got a further boost
when the al-Qa’ida central leadership announced last November
that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group united with al-Qa’ida
under AQIM’s leadership. Two simultaneous suicide car bomb
attacks in Algiers in December killed nearly 70 people and
marked AQIM’s highest profile act of violence to date.
Improvements in AQIM’s use of improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) suggest the group is acquiring knowledge transmitted
from extremists in Iraq.
AQIM traditionally has operated in Algeria and northern
Mali and has recruited and trained an unknown, but probably
small, number of extremists from Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria,
Mauritania, Libya, and other countries. Although the degree of
control that AQIM maintains over former trainees is unclear,
the IC assesses some of these trainees may have returned to
their home countries to plot attacks against local and Western
Other Affiliates Worldwide. Other al-Qa’ida regional
affiliates kept a lower profile in 2007, but we judge that they
remain capable of conducting attacks against US interests. Al-
Qa’ida is active on the Arabian Peninsula and presents a longterm
threat to both Western and host nation interests there,
particularly in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Yemen. In 2007, Saudi
authorities detained over 400 extremists, highlighting both the
threat and the Kingdom’s commitment to combating it. We
judge al-Qa’ida will continue to attempt attacks in the Arabian
Peninsula, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab
Emirates, and Bahrain.
The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses al-Qa’idaassociated
groups and networks in Lebanon pose a growing
threat to Western interests in the Levant. In East Africa, the
Ethiopian invasion of Somalia disrupted al-Qa’ida in East
Africa (AQEA) operations and activities, but senior AQEA
operatives responsible for the 1998 US Embassy bombings and
the 2002 attacks in Mombassa, Kenya, remain at large. The IC
assesses Jemaah Islamiya (JI) in Indonesia and the Abu Sayyaf
Group (ASG) in the Philippines—which have historic links to
al-Qa’ida and have killed over 400 people—are the two terrorist
groups posing the greatest threat to US interests in Southeast
Asia. The IC assesses that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba
(LT) and other Kashmir-focused groups will continue attack
planning and execution in India. Shia and Hindu religious
observances are possible targets, as are transportation networks
and government buildings. We judge Kashmir-focused groups
will continue to support the attacks in Afghanistan, and
operatives trained by the groups will continue to feature in al-
Qa’ida transnational attack planning.
The brutal attacks against Muslim civilians unleashed by
AQI and AQIM and the conflicting demands of the various
extremist agendas are tarnishing al-Qa’ida’s self-styled image
as the extremist vanguard. Over the past year, a number of
religious leaders and fellow extremists who once had significant
influence with al-Qa’ida have publicly criticized it and its
affiliates for the use of violent tactics.
• Usama Bin Ladin’s public statement about Iraq in
October—in which he admitted that AQI made mistakes and
urged it to reconcile with other Iraqi insurgent groups—
provoked controversy on extremist Internet discussion
forums. Likewise, deputy al-Qa’ida chief Ayman al-
Zawahiri has been criticized by supporters for perceived
contradictions in his public statements about HAMAS and
softness toward Iran and the Shia.
Over the next year, attacks by “homegrown” extremists
inspired by militant Islamic ideology but without operational
direction from al-Qa’ida will remain a threat to the United
States or against US interests overseas. The spread of radical
Salafi Internet sites that provide religious justification for
attacks, increasingly aggressive and violent anti-Western
rhetoric and actions by local groups, and the growing number of
radical, self-generating cells in Western countries that identify
with violent Salafi objectives, all suggest growth of a radical
and violent segment among the West’s Muslim populations.
Our European allies regularly tell us that they are uncovering
new extremist networks in their countries.
While the threat from such homegrown extremists is
greater in Europe, the US is not immune. The threat here is
likely to be fueled in part by propaganda and
mischaracterizations of US foreign policy as harmful to
Muslims, rather than by any formal assistance from al-Qa’ida or
other recognized groups. The al-Qa’ida-propagated narrative of
an “us versus them” struggle serves both as a platform and a
potential catalyst for radicalization of Muslims alienated from
the mainstream US population.
A small, but growing portion of al-Qa’ida propaganda, is in
English and is distributed to an American audience—either in
translated form or directly by English-speaking al-Qa’ida
members like Adam Gadahn, the American member of al-
Qa’ida who, in early-January, publicly urged Muslims to use
violence to protest the President’s Middle East trip. Bin
Ladin’s September 2007 “message to the American people” and
Zawahiri’s May 2007 interview include specific US cultural and
historical references almost certainly meant to strike a chord
with disaffected US listeners.
Disrupted plotting over the past 14 months in New Jersey
and Illinois highlights the diverse threat posed by Homelandbased
radical Muslims inspired by extremist ideology. A group
of European and Arab Muslim immigrants arrested last May for
planning to attack Fort Dix, New Jersey, used a group
member’s familiarity with the US Army base to determine their
target. In Illinois, the FBI arrested US Muslim convert Derrick
Shareef in December 2006 as he attempted to obtain weapons
for a self-planned, self-executed terrorist attack against a
shopping mall in Rockford.
To date, cells detected in the United States have lacked the
level of sophistication, experience, and access to resources of
terrorist cells overseas. Their efforts, when disrupted, largely
have been in the nascent phase, and authorities often were able
to take advantage of poor operational tradecraft. However, the
growing use of the internet to identify and connect with
networks throughout the world offers opportunities to build
relationships and gain expertise that previously were available
only in overseas training camps. It is likely that such
independent groups will use information on destructive tactics
available on the Internet to boost their own capabilities.
In addition to terrorism, the ongoing efforts of nation-states
and terrorists to develop and/or acquire dangerous weapons and
delivery systems constitute major threats to the safety of our
nation, our deployed troops, and our friends. We are most
concerned about the threat and destabilizing effect of nuclear
proliferation. We also are concerned about the threat from
biological and chemical agents.
WMD use by most nation states is traditionally constrained
by the logic of deterrence and by diplomacy, but these
constraints may be of less utility in preventing the use of masseffect
weapons by terrorist groups. The time when only a few
states had access to the most dangerous technologies has been
over for many years. Technologies, often dual-use, circulate
easily in our globalized economy, as do the scientific personnel
who design and use them. The IC works with other elements of
the US Government on the safeguarding and security of nuclear
weapons and fissile material, pathogens, and chemical weapons
in select countries.
We assess that some of the countries that are still pursuing
WMD programs will continue to try to improve their
capabilities and level of self-sufficiency over the next decade.
We also are focused on the potential acquisition of nuclear,
chemical, and/or biological weapons—or the production
technologies and materials necessary to produce them—by
states that do not now have such programs, by terrorist
organizations such as al Qa’ida, insurgents in Iraq, and by
criminal organizations, acting alone or via middlemen. We also
are concerned about rogue or criminal elements willing to
supply materials and technology—alone or with a network—
without their government’s knowledge.
We are especially concerned about the potential for
terrorists to gain access to WMD-related materials or
technology. Many countries in the international community
share these concerns. Therefore we are working closely with
other elements of the US Government to enhance the safety and
security of nuclear weapons and fissile material and the
detection of WMD materials.
The Iranian and North Korean regimes flout UN Security
Council restrictions on their nuclear programs.
Over the past year we have gained important new insights
into Tehran’s activities related to nuclear weapons and the
Community recently published a National Intelligence Estimate
on Iranian intent and capabilities in this area. I want to be very
clear in addressing the Iranian nuclear capability. First, there
are three parts to an effective nuclear weapons capability:
1. Production of fissile material
2. Effective means for weapons delivery
3. Design and weaponization of the warhead itself
We assess in our recent NIE on this subject that warhead
design and weaponization were halted, along with covert
military uranium conversion- and enrichment-related activities.
Declared uranium enrichment efforts, which will enable the
production of fissile material, continue. This is the most
difficult challenge in nuclear production. Iran’s efforts to
perfect ballistic missiles that can reach North Africa and Europe
also continue.
We remain concerned about Iran’s intentions and assess
with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is
keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We have
high confidence that Iranian military entities were working
under government direction to develop nuclear weapons until
fall 2003. Also, Iranian entities are continuing to develop a
range of technical capabilities that could be applied to
producing nuclear weapons. Iran continues its efforts to
develop uranium enrichment technology, which can be used
both for power reactor fuel and to produce nuclear weapons.
And, as noted, Iran continues to deploy ballistic missiles
inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and to
develop longer-range missiles. We also assess with high
confidence that even after fall 2003 Iran has conducted research
and development projects with commercial and conventional
military applications—some of which would also be of limited
use for nuclear weapons.
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran
halted its nuclear weapons design and weaponization activities,
as well as its covert military uranium conversion and
enrichment-related activities, for at least several years. Because
of intelligence gaps, DOE and the NIC assess with only
moderate confidence that all such activities were halted. We
assess with moderate confidence that Tehran had not restarted
these activities as of mid-2007, but since they comprised an
unannounced secret effort which Iran attempted to hide, we do
not know if these activities have been restarted.
We judge with high confidence that the halt was directed
primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and
pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously
undeclared nuclear work. This indicates that Iran may be more
susceptible to influence on the issue than we judged previously.
We do not have sufficient intelligence information to judge
confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its
nuclear weapons design and weaponization activities
indefinitely while it weighs its options, or whether it will or
already has set specific deadlines or criteria that will prompt it
to restart those activities. We assess with high confidence that
Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity
eventually to produce nuclear weapons. In our judgment, only
an Iranian political decision to abandon a nuclear weapons
objective would plausibly keep Iran from eventually producing
nuclear weapons—and such a decision is inherently reversible.
I note again that two activities relevant to a nuclear weapons
capability continue: uranium enrichment that will enable the
production of fissile material and development of long-range
ballistic missile systems.
We assess with moderate confidence that convincing the
Iranian leadership to forgo the eventual development of nuclear
weapons will be difficult given the linkage many within the
leadership see between nuclear weapons development and
Iran’s key national security and foreign policy objectives, and
given Iran’s considerable effort from at least the late 1980s to
2003 to develop such weapons.
We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence
that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon. We
continue to assess with low confidence that Iran probably has
imported at least some weapons-usable fissile material, but still
judge with moderate-to-high confidence it has not obtained
enough for a nuclear weapon. We cannot rule out that Iran has
acquired from abroad—or will acquire in the future—a nuclear
weapon or enough fissile material for a weapon. Barring such
acquisitions, if Iran wants to have nuclear weapons it would
need to produce sufficient amounts of fissile material
indigenously—which we judge with high confidence it has not
yet done.
Iran resumed its declared centrifuge enrichment activities
in January 2006, despite the 2003 halt in its nuclear weapons
design and weaponization activities. Iran made significant
progress in 2007 installing centrifuges at Natanz, but we judge
with moderate confidence it still faces significant technical
problems operating them.
• We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest
possible date Iran would be technically capable of
producing enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a
weapon is late 2009, but that is very unlikely.
• We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be
technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon
sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame. INR judges
Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013
because of foreseeable technical and programmatic
problems. All agencies recognize the possibility that this
capability may not be attained until after 2015.
We know that Tehran had a chemical warfare program
prior to 1997, when it declared elements of its program. We
assess that Tehran maintains dual-use facilities intended to
produce CW agent in times of need and conducts research that
may have offensive applications. We assess Iran maintains a
capability to weaponize CW agents in a variety of delivery
We assess that Iran has previously conducted offensive BW
agent research and development. Iran continues to seek dualuse
technologies that could be used for biological warfare.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs
threaten to destabilize a region that has known many great
power conflicts and comprises some of the world’s largest
economies. North Korea has already sold ballistic missiles to
several Middle Eastern countries and to Iran. We remain
concerned North Korea could proliferate nuclear weapons
While North Korea’s military almost certainly could not
defeat South Korea, it could inflict hundreds of thousands of
casualties and severe damage on the South. Missile delivery
systems, including several hundred deployed Scud and No
Dong missiles, which were flight-tested in July 2006, add to the
threat to South Korea and extend it to Japan, including to US
bases in both those countries. The North’s October 2006
nuclear test supports our previous assessment that it had
produced nuclear weapons. The test produced a nuclear yield of
less than one kiloton, well below the yield of most states’ first
nuclear tests. Prior to the test, North Korea produced enough
plutonium for at least a half dozen nuclear weapons.
The IC continues to assess that North Korea has pursued a
uranium enrichment capability at least in the past, and judges
with at least moderate confidence that the effort continues
Pyongyang probably views its capabilities as being more
for deterrence and coercive diplomacy than for warfighting and
would consider using nuclear weapons only under certain
narrow circumstances. We also assess that Pyongyang probably
would not attempt to use nuclear weapons against US forces or
territory unless it perceived the regime to be on the verge of
military defeat and risked an irretrievable loss of control.
• We assess that North Korea’s Taepo Dong-2, which failed
in its flight-test in July 2006, probably has the potential
capability to deliver a nuclear-weapon-sized payload to the
continental United States. But we assess the likelihood of
successful delivery would be low absent successful testing.
North Korea conducted missile tests and its first nuclear
detonation in October 2006. Since returning to the negotiating
table last year, Pyongyang has reaffirmed its September 2005
commitment in principle to full denuclearization, shut down its
nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, and begun the process of
disabling those facilities. But the North missed a 31 December
deadline for a full declaration of its nuclear programs, as had
been agreed to last October. The regime appears stable, but
persistent economic privation and natural disasters—such as the
severe floods last August—and uncertainty about succession
arrangements create the potential for domestic unrest with
unpredictable consequences.
In assessing the nuclear competition between India and
Pakistan, we note that missile tests and new force deployments
over the past three years have not affected the ongoing political
dialogue. Although both New Delhi and Islamabad are fielding
a more mature strategic nuclear capability, they do not appear to
be engaged in a Cold War-style arms race for numerical
We judge the ongoing political uncertainty in Pakistan has
not seriously threatened the military’s control of the nuclear
arsenal, but vulnerabilities exist. The Pakistan Army oversees
nuclear programs, including security responsibilities, and we
judge that the Army’s management of nuclear policy issues—to
include physical security—has not been degraded by Pakistan’s
political crisis.
THE CYBER THREAT The US information infrastructure—including
telecommunications and computer networks and systems, and
the data that reside on them—is critical to virtually every aspect
of modern life. Therefore, threats to our IT infrastructure are an
important focus of the Intelligence Community. As
government, private sector, and personal activities continue to
move to networked operations, as our digital systems add ever
more capabilities, as wireless systems become even more
ubiquitous, and as the design, manufacture, and service of
information technology has moved overseas, our vulnerabilities
will continue to grow.
Our information infrastructure—including the internet,
telecommunications networks, computer systems, and
embedded processors and controllers in critical industries—
increasingly is being targeted for exploitation and potentially
for disruption or destruction, by a growing array of state and
non-state adversaries. Over the past year, cyber exploitation
activity has grown more sophisticated, more targeted, and more
serious. The Intelligence Community expects these trends to
continue in the coming year.
We assess that nations, including Russia and China, have
the technical capabilities to target and disrupt elements of the
US information infrastructure and for intelligence collection.
Nation states and criminals target our government and private
sector information networks to gain competitive advantage in
the commercial sector. Terrorist groups—including al-Qa’ida,
HAMAS, and Hizballah—have expressed the desire to use
cyber means to target the United States. Criminal elements
continue to show growing sophistication in technical capability
and targeting, and today operate a pervasive, mature on-line
service economy in illicit cyber capabilities and services
available to anyone willing to pay.
Each of these actors has different levels of skill and
different intentions; therefore, we must develop flexible
capabilities to counter each. It is no longer sufficient for the US
Government to discover cyber intrusions in its networks, clean
up the damage, and take legal or political steps to deter further
intrusions. We must take proactive measures to detect and
prevent intrusions from whatever source, as they happen, and
before they can do significant damage.
At the President’s direction, an interagency group reviewed
the cyber threat to the US and identified options regarding how
best to integrate US Government defensive cyber capabilities;
how best to optimize, coordinate and de-conflict cyber
activities; and how to better employ cyber resources to
maximize performance. This tasking was fulfilled with the
January 2008 issuance of NSPD-54/HSPD-23, which directs a
comprehensive national cybersecurity initiative. These actions
will help to deter hostile action in cyber space by making it
harder to penetrate our networks.
AFGHANISTAN In 2007 the number of attacks in Afghanistan’s Talibandominated
insurgency exceeded that of the previous year, in
part because NATO and Afghan forces undertook many more
offensive operations. Efforts to improve governance and extend
development were hampered by a lack of security in some areas
and a general lack of government capacity and competency.
The ability of the Karzai government, NATO, and the United
States to defeat the Taliban will determine the continued
support of the Afghan people for the government and the
international community. Afghan leaders also must deal with
endemic corruption and pervasive poppy cultivation and drug
trafficking. Ultimately, defeating the insurgency will depend
heavily on the government’s ability to improve security, deliver
services, and expand development for economic opportunity.
Although international forces and the Afghan National
Army continue to score tactical victories over the Taliban, the
security situation has deteriorated in some areas in the south,
and Taliban forces have expanded their operations into
previously peaceful areas of the west and around Kabul. The
Taliban-dominated insurgency has expanded in scope despite
operational disruption caused by International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) and Operation Enduring Freedom
operations. The death or capture of three top Taliban leaders
last year—their first high level losses—does not yet appear to
have significantly disrupted insurgent operations.
Continued progress has been made in expanding and
fielding the Afghan National Army, which as of the end of 2007
reported attaining 70 percent of its authorized 70,000 end
strength. While this is an improvement, the shortage of
international trainers in the field, high operational tempo,
attrition, and absenteeism hamper efforts to make units capable
of significant independent action. The Afghan National Police
has approximately 90 percent of its authorized 82,000 endstrength.
While the National Police may have more forces
throughout Afghanistan, corruption, insufficient training and
equipment, and absenteeism hamper their effectiveness.
Kabul in 2008 must work closely with the national
legislature, as well as provincial and tribal leaders, to establish
and extend the capacity of the central government. The country
faces a chronic shortage of resources and of qualified and
motivated government officials at the national and local level.
The drug trade is one of the greatest long-term challenges
facing Afghanistan. The insidious effects of drug-related
criminality continue to undercut the government’s ability to
assert its authority, to develop a strong, rule-of-law based
system, and to rebuild the economy. Despite improved
eradication and investigative efforts, poppy cultivation
increased again last year. Opium poppy cultivation remains at
or near 2004 record levels with over 200,000 hectares of land
under cultivation in 2007.
Both law enforcement and judicial capacity—although
somewhat improved—remain limited, and Kabul remains
constrained in its ability to deploy programs at the provincial
and local levels. For farmers, opium poppy cultivation remains
significantly more lucrative than wheat and other crops. The
United Nations estimated the total farm-gate value of opium
production in 2007 at $1 billion, with Helmand Province
producing just over half of this total. The Taliban and other
insurgent groups operating in poppy-growing regions gain at
least some of financial support as a result of their ties to local
opium traffickers. Drug money is an important source of
income, especially at the local level where some Taliban
commanders accrue their own operational funding.
The security situation in Iraq continues to show signs of
improvement. According to Multinational Force-Iraq, as of the
end of 2007, security incidents countrywide and in the 10
Baghdad Security Districts have declined to their lowest levels
since the February 2006 Samarra Golden Mosque bombing;
civilian violence has declined to pre-Samarra levels; and
monthly civilian fatalities nationwide have fallen by over half in
the past year. We judge these security gains are the result of a
combination of factors, including the success of tribal efforts in
combating AQI, expanded Coalition operations, and the
growing capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
• We judge that organized tribal resistance to AQI––aided by
expanded Coalition operations––has reduced AQI’s
operational capabilities. Concurrently, decisions by major
elements of the Sunni insurgency to work with the Coalition
this year have weakened the insurgency by reducing the
number of Sunnis involved in violent resistance.
• Many tribal members and former insurgents have joined
“Concerned Local Citizen” groups (CLCs) or “tribal
awakening” movements that are cooperating with the
Coalition and Iraqi Government. Some groups have
indicated a desire to move beyond providing security. They
now want to promote economic development and become
political movements. They also are endorsing the
legitimacy of elections and political bargaining to effect
change at the provincial and national levels of government.
• A steady decline in suicide attacks––the majority of which
we judge are conducted by foreign terrorists––indicates that
Coalition disruptions of AQI’s foreign terrorists have
eroded AQI’s capability to mount suicide operations.
• The ISF effectively deployed forces to Baghdad in support
of Operation Fardh al-Qanun this spring and, most recently,
to Al Basrah and Ad Diwaniyah. While showing dramatic
improvements, the ISF currently needs the Coalition for
planning, supporting, and executing sustained operations.
Despite these gains, a number of internal factors continue
to undermine Iraq’s security. Sectarian distrust is still strong
throughout Iraqi society, and AQI remains capable of
conducting destabilizing operations and spectacular attacks
despite disruptions of its networks. AQI remains a potent force
and the most active and capable of the Sunni extremist groups
fighting Coalition and Iraqi Government forces in Iraq. Also,
since last August, intra-communal violence in southern Iraq has
spread beyond rival militia factions as Shia groups compete for
Many Sunnis who participate in local security initiatives
retain a hostile attitude toward Shia parties that dominate the
government, and some Shia leaders still view many anti-AQI
Sunni groups as thinly disguised insurgents who are plotting to
reverse the political process that brought the Shia to power.
Security in southern Iraq probably will remain fragile in the
coming months as rival Shia groups continue to compete
violently for political power and economic resources. In Al
Basrah, security remains tenuous. Security also is a problem in
northern Iraq. Violence has increased in Mosul, Iraq’s third
largest city, as both Sunni resistance elements and AQI
increasingly focus their activities in the area. The Iraqi
government will have to address Sunni Arab concerns over
representation on the provincial councils, defeat AQI and the
insurgents, and address Kurdish expansionism to improve
security in northern Iraq.
A number of factors continue to challenge the ISF’s ability
to conduct effective operations independent of Coalition forces.
While improving significantly over the past year, ISF units
remain hindered by shortages of personnel––especially trained
leaders––and many units still rely on the Coalition for logistics
support. Lastly, the return of Iraqi refugees and internally
displaced persons (IDPs) to their former homes and
neighborhoods as security improves could increase
ethnosectarian tensions in mixed communities and create an
additional strain on the Iraqi Government’s ability to provide
security and basic services to the general population.
Efforts by some of Iraq’s neighbors to exert influence in
Iraq also endanger Iraq’s security. Iran––primarily through the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force––continues to
provide weapons, funding, and training support to certain Iraqi
Shia militants despite reported commitments by senior Iranian
officials to stop such support. Iran’s provision of lethal aid to
Iraqi Shia militants is designed to increase Tehran’s influence
over Iraq as well as ensure the United States suffers setbacks.
Approximately 90 percent of all suicide attacks in Iraq are
conducted by foreign terrorists with 50 to 80 foreign terrorists
entering Iraq each month, although that number appeared to
decline in the last part of 2007. Seventy to eighty percent of the
foreign terrorists gain final entry into Iraq through Syria, many
through the Damascus international airport.
Syrian internal security operations have contributed to the
reduction in the effectiveness of AQI’s Syria-based foreign
terrorist facilitation networks and in the number of foreign
terrorists entering Iraq; nevertheless, Syria remains the primary
transit hub for Iraq-bound terrorists.
Improved security is a necessary but not sufficient
condition to stabilize Iraq. Bridging differences among
competing factions and communities and providing effective
governance are critical for achieving a successful state, but
moving ahead on that road has been tough for Iraq.
Prime Minister Maliki’s government had only limited
success in delivering government services and improving the
quality of life for Iraqis. Despite the beginning of a return of
Iraqis who had fled because of violence, the political gaps
between Iraqi communities, particularly the Arab Sunni and
Shia, remain deep.
Against this backdrop, Baghdad has managed to make
some progress on key legislation. Legislation to reform de-
Bathification laws, known as the “Accountabilty and Justice
Law,” has passed in the Iraqi Council of Representatives and
awaits approval from the Presidency Council. When approved,
this legislation would provide more Iraqis with an opportunity to
play a role and have a stake in the central government.
Negotiations on hydrocarbon laws continue to be stalled by
disagreements between the central government and the Kurds
over control of resources and revenue sharing. Progress also has
been mixed on resolving outstanding Constitutional reform issues
and preparing to hold provincial elections.
Gains on the economic front have improved the quality of
life for Iraqis. Improved security has contributed to an increase in
oil output from northern Iraq. The government also improved its
performance last year in executing its budget, and the rate of
inflation declined to 4.7 percent in December 2007 after hovering
around 50 percent for most of 2006.
Legislation and improvements in governance and the
economy are not in themselves ends; rather they are critical
means for restoring Iraqi confidence in the central government
and for easing sectarian distrust, which are the greatest
requirements for enabling reconciliation.
TURKEY The Marxist inspired KGK maintains approximately 3,000-
3,500 guerrilla fighters in its northern Iraqi camps, about 1,000-
2,000 fighters inside Turkey, and several hundred in Iran and
Syria and wants to establish a greater Kurdistan. The group has
maintained a high-level of violence in Turkey a few months
each year since it ended its five-year old unilateral ceasefire in
Although the KGK has not previously targeted US
interests, the risk of retaliatory attacks against US interests in
Turkey and Iraq could grow.
IRAN During the next year Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and
Iran’s various conservative factions, despite some differences
and infighting, are expected to maintain control over a
politically stable if economically troubled Iranian state.
However, recent public feuding between government factions
over President Ahmadi-Nejad’s handling of foreign and
domestic policy issues—specifically the nuclear issue and the
economy—probably is making it more difficult for Khamenei
to avoid taking sides. The political discord probably has
intensified as a result of international pressure, and as each side
tries to position itself in advance of the Majles elections in
• Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani in November
called on the government to take the latest sanctions
seriously, according to press.
• Ahmadi-Nejad publicly has responded by calling his critics
“traitors” and threatened to publicly reveal their identities.
• In December, Rafsanjani publicly attacked Ahmadi-Nejad,
likening the President’s economic policies to those of the
Shah—an extremely unusual and pointed critique.
• Iran is on its soundest financial footing since the revolution
with record high oil export revenue boosting foreign
exchange reserves to more than $70 billion. Despite the
positive financial outlook, Iran’s economy is plagued by the
twin problems of high inflation and unemployment, which
are Iranians’ top complaints. Ahmadi-Nejad’s populist
policies have reduced unemployment marginally, but at the
expense of rising inflation, which his political rivals might
try to exploit in the upcoming Majles elections.
Iran remains a threat to regional stability and US interests
in the Middle East because of its continued support for violent
groups, such as HAMAS and Hizballah, and efforts to undercut
pro-Western actors, for example in Lebanon. Tehran’s
leadership seeks to preserve Iran’s Islamic revolutionary
government, sovereignty, stability, and territorial integrity while
expanding Iran’s influence and leadership in the region and the
Islamic world.
Iran also is enhancing its ability to project its military
power—primarily with ballistic missiles and naval power—with
the ultimate goal of dominating the Gulf region and deterring
potential adversaries. It seeks a capacity to disrupt Gulf
shipping, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, and thus the
operations and reinforcement of US forces in the region—
potentially intimidating regional allies into withholding support
for US policy. Iran’s growing inventory of ballistic and antiship
cruise missiles is a key element in its efforts to assert its
Iranian leadership perceptions of a favorable environment
are driving its foreign policy to expand Tehran’s influence and
leadership in the region and the Islamic world and to undermine
US influence, which it perceives as inimical to Iran’s clerical
regime. To achieve its regional aims and mitigate threats, Iran
seeks to develop a sphere of influence based on diplomatic and
economic relations, religious affinities, and shared anti-US
sentiments. While Tehran seeks better relationships with Shia
populations worldwide, it continues to be especially strident in
denying Israel’s right to exist.
Whether courting other governments or Muslim citizens,
Iranian leaders seek political allies and economic partners as
well as religious converts. Moreover, Tehran probably judges
that local surrogates—usually Shia allies or proxies cultivated
over many years—can promote Iran’s interests.
In Afghanistan, Iran likely will continue to focus on
political activities, reaching out to alternative power centers,
and challenging the US-led Coalition. Iranian officials probably
will increase contact with various militias, political
oppositionists, and religious leaders in Afghanistan and
continue to provide lethal aid to groups and individuals who
might be able to influence events in Iran’s favor should the
Karzai government falter or turn against Iran. We assess Iran
has provided weapons to some Taliban commanders. NATO
forces last September interdicted a vehicle convoy from Iran
that contained weapons, including advanced improvised
explosive devices, destined for the Taliban.
• In the Levant, Iranian security concerns, particularly vis-àvis
Israel and the United States, and ambitions to become a
dominant regional player, loyalty to allies, and concern for
Lebanese Shia probably are driving Tehran’s relations with
Syria, Hizballah, and other regional groups. Over the longer
term, differences in Iranian and Syrian goals could limit
their cooperation, but—barring significant changes in threat
perceptions by either Syria or Iran—Tehran probably will
continue providing military support to Syria.
• In Lebanon, Tehran seeks to build Iran’s and Hizballah’s
influence to the detriment of other Lebanese communities
and US and Israeli interests. To enhance its role as the
leader of resistance to Israel, Iran will increase its support to
Palestinian terrorist groups, including HAMAS.
PAKISTAN Pakistan is a critical partner in US counterterrorism efforts,
but continues to face an array of challenges complicating its
effectiveness against al-Qa’ida and other radical Islamic
elements operating in the country. These challenges include
coping with an unparalleled level of suicide attacks ordered by
Pakistan-based militants, many of whom are allied with al-
Qa’ida. At least 865 security forces and civilians were killed by
suicide bombings and IEDs in 2007. Four hundred ninety-six
security forces and civilians also were killed in armed clashes in
2007 to make a total of 1360 killed in 2007. Total casualties in
2007 including the number of injured security forces and
civilians exceeded the cumulative total for all years between
2001 and 2006.
Pakistan is establishing a new modus vivendi among the
Army, President Musharraf, and elected civilian leaders now
that Musharraf has stepped down as Army chief. Pakistani
authorities are increasingly determined to strengthen their
counterterrorism performance, even during a period of
heightened political tension that we expect to continue over the
next year.
Radical elements in Pakistan have the potential to
undermine the country’s cohesiveness. The terrorist
assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto could
embolden Pashtun militants, increasing their confidence that
they can strike the Pakistani establishment anywhere in the
The killing of Bhutto weakens the political party in
Pakistan with the broadest national reach and most secular
orientation, the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians
(PPPP). However, sympathetic voters could give the party the
largest number of Assembly seats in the upcoming national
The Pakistani government’s current plans will require
intensified and sustained efforts to orchestrate the
administrative, economic, educational, legal, and social reforms
required to defeat Islamic extremism and militancy. Pakistan’s
law and order problems arising from tribal and religious
militancy can be effectively addressed in the long term only if
police and paramilitary forces can more reliably provide justice
and border security. All of these administrative reforms require
effective political leadership focused on improving the
capabilities of Pakistani institutions for effective governance
and development of economic opportunity.
SYRIA The regime in Damascus continues to undermine
Lebanon’s sovereignty and security through its proxies; to
harbor and support terrorists and terrorist organizations opposed
to progress on peace talks; and to allow terrorists and criminals
to cross its borders into Iraq and Lebanon. And as I noted
previously, Syria’s efforts to stop the flow of foreign fighters
through Syria into Iraq has improved in recent months but is
uneven over the past year.
Since the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in 2005, eight
additional political leaders or officials have been killed in
Lebanon in an effort to intimidate 14 March Coalition figures
and alter the political balance in the Lebanese legislature. The
Syrian regime, Hizballah, and pro-Syrian opposition elements in
Lebanon have attempted to stymie international efforts to bring
to justice those responsible for the Hariri assassination and
disarm militia groups which constitute a challenge to Lebanese
security and sovereignty. We anticipate that Syria and its
supporters will continue to manipulate political developments in
Lebanon through violence, intimidation, and refusal to work
within constitutional parameters.
Syria continues its support of Hizballah as that group seeks
to rearm against Israel and advance its political agenda in
Lebanon at the expense of the legitimate government.
Damascus continues to support Palestinian rejectionist groups,
including HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. These
organizations continue to base their external leadership in Syria,
and despite repeated demands from the international
community, Syria refuses to expel them or their leaders from
their safe-haven in Damascus.
LEBANON In Lebanon, international efforts, to ensure free, fair, and
constitutional presidential elections, have been impeded by
destabilizing actions of Syria, Iran, and their Lebanese proxies.
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Michel
Sulayman has emerged as the prospective consensus candidate
to become the country’s next president; but Hizballah and the
other pro-Syrian opposition parties insist on further concessions
from the ruling Coalition before agreeing on the compromise.
Even if the presidency is decided peacefully, issues such as the
formation of the new government, naming of a prime minister,
and the prospects for a UN tribunal investigating the
assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri will be
• Since November 2006, a Minister, a deputy chief of the
LAF, and several pro-government legislators have been
killed in a campaign of intimidation—deepening fear among
the Lebanese people that Syria, Iran, and their Lebanese
cohorts will prevent Lebanon from asserting their political
and economic independence.
• The pro-Syrian opposition has interfered with the
government’s implementation of UN Security Council
resolutions. In violation of UNSC Resolution 1701,
weapons and fighters continue to flow across Lebanon’s
borders to Hizballah and other terrorist organizations.
In southern Lebanon more than 13,000 UNIFIL
peacekeepers and the Lebanese Armed Forces patrol
Hizballah’s stronghold. As recently as January, militants
launched rockets into northern Israel from inside the UNIFIL
zone and a roadside bomb killed six peacekeepers last June.
Many former militias in Lebanon are reconstituting, rearming,
and retraining their fighters. The increased political and
sectarian tension also raises the potential for civil war within the
country. Lastly, militant groups, some associated with al-
Qa’ida, continue to threaten Lebanese internal security.
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES Despite progress toward initiating formal peace talks made
in Annapolis last November, concern persists over the
Palestinian Authority’s ability to deliver the security demanded
by Israel and to win popular support for its positions. President
Abbas and other moderates remain vulnerable to actions by
HAMAS and other groups aimed at subverting an agreement.
The intra-Palestinian schism between Abbas and HAMAS has
escalated since HAMAS’ takeover of Gaza last summer.
HAMAS feels increased pressure over a weakening
economic situation and an accelerating humanitarian crisis in the
Gaza Strip; however, the group remains fairly unified, especially
its military wing, and in charge in the Gaza Strip where it
controls all PA facilities. HAMAS continues to curtail freedoms
and to harass Fatah members.
In the West Bank, we see signs of progress by Fatah,
including steps to reorganize the security sector, the return of
PA customs revenues collected by Israel, renewed security and
law enforcement cooperation with Israeli forces in taking more
effective action against HAMAS, and progress by PA security
forces in establishing security in Nablus and other areas.
SAUDI ARABIA In Saudi Arabia, the long-term challenge from Islamic
extremism has been checked for now, and the government
benefits from steady, oil price-driven economic growth. Saudi
security forces have achieved notable successes against al-
Qa’ida networks inside the Kingdom since 2003, killing or
capturing al-Qa’ida’s original Saudi-based leadership and
degrading its manpower, access to weapons, and operational
Although Riyadh also has made strides against key
supporters and facilitators of extremist attacks in Iraq, Saudi
Arabia remains a source of recruits and finances for Iraq and
Levant-based militants and Saudi extremists constitute the
largest share of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq.
RUSSIA AND EURASIA Let me turn now to Russia and Eurasia. In March, Russia
is set to reach what many anticipated would be an important
milestone—the first on-schedule change in leadership since
communism and the first voluntary transfer of power from one
healthy Kremlin leader to another. That milestone has been
clouded, however, by President Putin’s declared readiness to
serve as prime minister under his hand-picked successor,
Dmitry Medvedev, a move that raises questions about who will
be in charge of Russia after Putin’s presidential term expires in
May. Coming at a time of uncertainty about Russia’s direction,
the Medvedev-Putin “cohabitation” raise questions about the
country’s future and the implications for Western interests.
While many of the essential features of the current system
are likely to endure, including weak institutions, corruption, and
growing authoritarianism, we will be alert for signs of systemic
changes such as an indication that presidential powers are being
weakened in favor of a stronger prime minister.
We judge the Russian economy will continue to expand
under a new leadership, although at a slower rate than over the
last eight years, given capacity constraints, the slow pace of
institutional change, the impact of real ruble appreciation, and
developments in the international economy. Negative longerterm
demographic challenges loom and investment will remain
a significant constraint, particularly in the energy sector.
Other elements of Russian national power—from trade and
energy, to diplomatic instruments and military and intelligence
capabilities—are on a path to grow over the next four years.
For example, Russia is positioning to control an energy supply
and transportation network spanning from Europe to East Asia.
Aggressive Russian efforts to control, restrict or block the
transit of hydrocarbons from the Caspian to the West—and to
ensure that East-West energy corridors remain subject to
Russian control—underscore the potential power and influence
of Russia’s energy policy.
The Russian military has begun to reverse a long, deep
deterioration in its capabilities that started before the collapse of
the Soviet Union. Although determined that defense spending
not harm Russia’s economic performance, Putin has been
committed to increases for defense commensurate with GDP
growth that has averaged just under 7 percent this decade. By
2006 the military had significantly increased the number of
high-readiness units from 1999 levels, ramped up ground forces
training—including mobilization exercise activity—and begun
to man its high-readiness units with longer-term “contract”
personnel rather than conscripts.
Moscow also is making more use of its strengthened armed
forces. A growing number of exercises with foreign militaries
and an increased operational tempo in the North Caucasus
Military District, often focusing on potential Georgian
contingencies, are designed primarily to demonstrate regional
dominance and discourage outside interference. Russia has
used widely publicized missile launches and increased longrange
aviation (LRA) training flights to the Pacific, Atlantic,
and Arctic Oceans to showcase Russia’s continued global reach
and military relevance.
The military still faces significant challenges, and recent
activity does not approach Soviet era operations. Demographic,
health problems, and conscription deferments erode available
manpower. Strategic nuclear forces remain viable, but Russia’s
defense industry suffers from overcapacity, loss of skilled and
experienced personnel, lack of modern machine tools, rising
material and labor costs, and dwindling component suppliers.
The other states of Eurasia remain in a state of flux.
Unresolved conflicts in the separatist Georgian regions of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia will remain potential flashpoints
even if Russia—in response to Western recognition of
Kosovo—does not follow through with its implicit threat to
recognize the two regions as independent. President
Saakashvili’s reelection in January will help renew his
democratic credentials and leadership mandate.
Elsewhere in the Caucasus, the stalemated Nagorno-
Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia continues
to produce dozens of casualties annually along the Line-of-
Contact. Moreover, Russia’s recent suspension of its
Conventional Forces in Europe obligations could lead to similar
suspensions by Azerbaijan and Armenia and a subsequent arms
Ukraine will continue to experience an unsettled domestic
political situation for months to come. The struggle for power
between various factions, however, has remained within the
political system since the Orange Revolution, decreasing the
possibility of violence.
Prospects for major political change in Belarus are dim
over the next year. Lukashenko’s populist rhetoric, image as
the defender of Belarus, and ability to keep the economy stable
have maintained his high popularity. Opposition efforts to
promote a pro-Western democratic agenda and build support for
his ouster have gained little traction.
Central Asian Trends. Central Asia remains fertile
ground for radical Islamic sentiment and movements, due to
socioeconomic and other factors. In Uzbekistan, President
Karimov is intent on retaining firm control, but faces increased
public dissatisfaction over a weakened economy and higher
commodity prices. He has already demonstrated the willingness
to use force against his people and could move quickly to
suppress protests. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan lack the energy
resources of other Central Asian states and have weak
economies, but appear relatively stable for now. In the last
year, Turkmenistan has shown progress on human rights and
has begun to expand contacts with the outside world, but is still
recovering from years of isolation.
We judge that the Balkans will remain unsettled in 2008 as
Kosovo’s drive for independence from Serbia comes to a head
and inter-ethnic relations in Bosnia worsen. Kosovo leaders say
they will declare independence early in 2008, a move that could
trigger confrontation with rejectionist Serbs living in northern
Kosovo and some retaliatory measures by Belgrade. A delay in
independence could provoke a violent response from embittered
Kosovo Albanian extremists.
Inter-ethnic violence that brings about intervention by
NATO-led forces, is possible once Kosovo declares its
independence, and any violence could spill over to neighboring
states. However Kosovo’s status is resolved, ethnic Albanian
minorities in Macedonia and southern Serbia are likely to
continue pressing for greater autonomy, and ethnic Albanian
extremists will attempt to exploit public discontent and use
small-scale violence to rally support for unification with
Kosovo. Serbian officials say they will not intervene with the
Serbian Army in Kosovo, but they have warned of political and
economic responses that would probably harden Kosovo Serb’s
rejectionism of independence and hinder Kosovo’s economic
Fundamental differences between Bosniak and Bosnian
Serb leaders over the ultimate structure of a multi-ethnic
Bosnian state, fueled by increasingly strident ethnic rhetoric
over the past year, have stymied most reforms required to keep
Bosnia on a stabilizing path toward closer ties with the EU and
NATO. However, the EU recently initialed a Stabilization and
Association Agreement with Sarajevo. The international
community presence in Bosnia is set to decline further in 2008.
We judge the probability of interethnic violence is low absent a
move by Bosnia’s Serb entity, the Republika Srpska, toward
secession. Any violence would put pressure on US and NATO
forces in the region to assist.
CHINA China sees itself as a regional power with global interests.
Its strategic priorities focus on sustaining economic growth and
political stability, partly as means to reinforce China’s status as
a great power and to uphold its territorial integrity. Beijing sees
a peaceful external environment as vital to achieving these
goals. As a result, China’s global engagement is not driven by
Communist ideology or military expansionism, but instead by a
need for access to markets, resources, technology and expertise,
and a desire to assert its role in the international community.
• All these goals have been reflected over the past few years
in Beijing’s expanded engagement with Africa and Latin
America. China’s efforts there have largely focused on
gaining greater access to natural resources—especially
oil—but China’s involvement in these regions also helps
promote its regional and global influence by burnishing
China’s image as a leader of the developing world. For
example, Beijing has boosted its participation in African
peacekeeping operations, most notably in Sudan.
• China’s engagement in these regions, however, often
overlooks the tendency of some developing world leaders
to engage in human rights abuses or proliferation
behavior—thus providing disincentives for those leaders to
alter such behaviors. In addition, Beijing still engages in
some activities—including arms sales—that could
contribute to instability in Africa or Latin America. China’s
arms sales in the Middle East are also destabilizing and a
threat to US forces, while missile sales to Iran pose a threat
to US forces in the Persian Gulf.
Public statements by Chinese leaders indicate that Beijing
perceives itself as being in the midst of a 20-year “window of
opportunity” favorable to China’s growth, development, and
rise in influence. As a result, Beijing is seeking a constructive
relationship with the US and the rest of the world, which will
allow China to fully capitalize on a favorable strategic
environment. Indeed, Chinese officials consistently emphasize
the need to seek cooperative relations with Washington, because
conflict with the United States would risk derailing China’s
economic development. They also seek to alleviate
international concerns about China’s strategic intentions. As
China’s influence grows, however, Beijing probably will
increasingly expect its interests to be respected by other
countries. This will be especially true within East Asia, as
Beijing tries to leverage its growing influence into a greater
leadership role in the region.
The Taiwan presidential election scheduled for 22 March,
coincides with an internal referendum on membership in the
UN. Outgoing President Chen Shui-bian is seeking to affirm
Taiwan’s sovereignty and separate identity from the mainland.
Beijing is attempting to use political and economic levers to
deter what it sees as Taiwan’s moves toward independence, but
Chinese leaders say they are prepared for military
contingencies, and have occasionally cited Beijing’s 2005
“Anti-Secession Law,” which authorizes the use of force if
Beijing’s leaders deem it necessary.
Notwithstanding China’s external goals, the leadership is
focused on threats to domestic stability. President Hu Jintao’s
domestic policy agenda is an attempt to address some of the
underlying causes of social discontent, which has erupted in
local demonstrations, by focusing on more balanced economic
opportunity, environmental protection, expanded social
services, and rule of law while strengthening the Communist
Party’s hold on power. Chinese leaders rely on security forces
to clamp down on non-governmental organizations, dissidents,
and religious groups viewed as threats to the Party’s power.
Implementation of Hu’s program will require a major shift of
resources to the countryside, greater accountability of provincial
leaders to Beijing, and stronger efforts to root out corruption—
all of which require overcoming substantial obstacles or taking
significant political risks.
China’s impressive economic growth—it is the world’s
second largest economy—masks significant distortions and
risks, including a rigidly controlled currency that contributes to
excess liquidity, wasteful investment; government policies that
favor exports over domestic consumption; and a state-run
banking system slowly recovering from a series of credit
problems. China’s demographic problem of an aging
population, high incidence of chronic and infectious disease,
environmental degradation, and an increasing energy crunch are
likely to slow economic growth over the long term. A sudden
and sharp slowdown in China could exacerbate vulnerabilities
in the global economy; hardest hit would be its neighbors who
sell about 50 percent of their goods to China and commodity
producers who have enjoyed high prices and expanding export
volumes because of China’s rising demand for raw material,
metals, and food.
PLA MODERNIZATION The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to develop
a wide range of systems that increasingly could put US and
allied forces and bases in the region at risk. China’s military
modernization program is driven by the perception that a
competent, modern military force is an essential element of the
“great power” status to which Chinese leaders aspire. We judge
that any Chinese regime, even a democratic one, would have
similar goals.
China continues to develop and field conventional theaterrange
ballistic and cruise missile capabilities that will put US
forces and regional bases throughout the Western Pacific and
Asia at greater risk. China also is developing more capable
long-range conventional strike systems and short- and mediumrange
ballistic missiles with terminally guided maneuverable
warheads that could be used to attack US naval forces and
airbases. China’s arms sales in the Middle East are
destabilizing and a threat to US forces, while missile sales to
Iran also pose a threat to US forces in the Persian Gulf.
In addition, counter-command, control and sensor systems to
include communications satellite jammers and ASAT weapons,
are among Beijing’s highest military priorities.
Beijing seeks to modernize China’s strategic forces in order
to address concerns about the survivability of those systems in
the face of foreign advances in strategic reconnaissance,
precision strike and missile defenses. China’s nuclear
capabilities in terms of range, lethality and survivability will
increase rapidly over the next ten years.
Potential foreign adversaries are aware of the increasing US
reliance on space systems and the advantages these systems
provide to US military and intelligence operations. Over the
last decade, the rest of the world has made significant progress
in developing counterspace capabilities. I expand on this threat
in my classified statement for the record.
LATIN AMERICA The gradual consolidation of democracy remained the
dominant trend over the last year in Latin America, but a small
group of radical populist governments continues to project a
competing vision that appeals to many of the region’s poor.
Indeed, the persistence of high levels of poverty and striking
income inequalities will continue to create a potentially
receptive audience for radical populism’s message, especially in
the less developed areas of Latin America.
Inspired and supported by Venezuela and Cuba, leaders in
Bolivia, Nicaragua, and—more tentatively—in Ecuador are
pursuing agendas that undercut checks and balances on
presidential power, seek lengthy presidential terms, weaken
media and civil liberties, and emphasize economic nationalism
at the expense of market-based approaches. Moreover, each of
these governments, to varying degrees, has engaged in sharply
anti-US rhetoric, aligned with Venezuela and Cuba—and
increasingly Iran—on international issues, and advocated
measures that directly clash with US initiatives.
VENEZUELA The referendum on constitutional reform last December
was a stunning setback for Venezuelan President Chavez and
may slow his movement toward authoritarian rule and
implementation of his vision of 21st century socialism.
However, Chavez will not abandon his goals for sweeping
change toward socialism in Venezuela but may be compelled to
spend more time bolstering his domestic support.
We judge Chavez miscalculated public opposition to such
moves as seeking indefinite re-election and greater discretionary
authority over expropriating private property. The proposed
constitutional changes also generated schisms within the
heretofore united pro-Chavez movement as Chavista governors
and officials came to recognize their loss of power under the
new system. The outcome of the referendum has given a major
psychological boost to Chavez’s opponents among the middle
class, the private sector, the Catholic Church, and especially
university students who have become an increasingly important
political force. The challenge for the diverse opposition will be
to remain united absent a coalescing event like the referendum.
While Chavez’s policies are damaging the Venezuelan oil
industry and its economy, over the next year or so, high oil
prices are likely to enable Chavez to retain the support of his
constituents through well-funded social programs; continue coopting
some members of the economic elite who are profiting
from the consumer-led boom; and stave off the eventual
consequences of his financial mismanagement. Adverse
economic trends are increasingly evident, including food
shortages, rising inflation, and an overvalued currency. Without
question, policies being pursued by President Chavez have
Venezuela on a path to ruin its conomy.
Continued Regional Activism. Even with his likely
increased attention to domestic affairs, Chavez will continue to
seek to unite Latin America, under his leadership, behind an
anti-US, radical leftist agenda and to look to Cuba as a key
ideological ally. Chavez’s leadership ambitions are likely to
encounter growing opposition as time passes, however, because
he has antagonized several of his regional counterparts and is
increasingly portrayed by influential media as a divisive figure.
The sidelining of Fidel Castro in favor of his brother Raul
may lead to a period of adjustment in Venezuela’s relations
with Cuba. Nevertheless, both governments depend heavily on
this special bilateral relationship, and we assess they will find
ways to smooth over any differences that may arise during the
ongoing succession period in Cuba.
A high priority for Chavez will be to support the Morales
government in Bolivia. The inauguration of Nicaragua’s
Daniel Ortega in January 2007 has given Chavez another
staunch ally and a location from which to expand Venezuela’s
activities in Central America. We expect Chavez to provide
generous campaign funding to the Farabundo Marti National
Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador in its bid to secure the
presidency in the 2009 election.
Venezuela and Iran. Chavez and Iran’s President Ahmadi-
Nejad have established a rapport, having visited each other
seven times since 2005. Venezuela and Iran have made the
most progress on the economic and energy fronts, negotiating
agreements in such areas as agriculture, automobile and tractor
manufacture, petrochemicals, and oil exploration in
Venezuela’s Orinoco region. Venezuela and Iran also have
discussed cooperation on nuclear energy, but we are not aware
of any significant developments as a result of these discussions.
Military cooperation between Tehran and Caracas is growing.
Nevertheless, the well over $3 billion in arms Venezuela has
purchased from Russia over the past two years far exceeds the
military sales and maintenance contracts to which Venezuela
and Iran have agreed. There are growing signs of anxiety
among Venezuela’s neighbors about this military build-up.
Venezuela as Drug Transit Point. Since 2005 Venezuela
has been a major departure point for South American—
predominantly Colombian—cocaine destined for the US
market, and its importance as a transshipment center continues
to grow. Chavez’s lack of counterdrug cooperation undermines
efforts by other countries, particularly Colombia, by giving
traffickers access to alternative routes and transit points.
Chavez is likely to remain unengaged on the counternarcotics
front unless the drug trade is perceived to damage his
international image or threaten his political longevity.
CUBA Raul Castro has served as Cuba’s Provisional President for
over 18 months, but his political skills will be further tested
over the next year as he deals with heightened public
expectations for economic improvement in food availability,
housing, transportation, salaries, and meaningful employment.
His actions to date indicate that he is looking for ways to bring
about economic changes through a modest, though not a
sweeping transformation of Cuba’s Communist economic
model. Raul Castro has publicly called for contact with the
United States on Havana’s terms aimed ultimately at bringing
about an end to the US embargo.
We judge Raul’s most likely approach will be cautious,
incremental steps to make the agricultural sector more
productive, to allow some private sector expansion through the
creation of more small-scale enterprises, and to attract new
foreign investment. If Raul moves forward, he probably will
take pains to ensure elite consensus. Senior Cuban officials
have made clear that there are no plans to permit competitive
elections or otherwise alter the Communist Party’s monopoly of
power. Indeed, the determination of the Cuban leadership to
ignore outside pressure to carry out significant economic and
political reform continues to be reinforced by the more than $1
billion net annual subsidy that Venezuela provides to sustain
Policy missteps or the mishandling of a crisis by the
leadership could lead to political instability in Cuba, raising the
risk of mass migration. We assess the political situation is
likely to remain stable at least in the initial months following
Fidel Castro’s death and do not expect to see overt signs of
major cleavage in the ruling elite because many of the top Party
and armed forces leaders were hand-picked by Raul Castro.
Moreover, senior Party and government officials probably
would not want to jeopardize their futures by forcefully
challenging regime decisions. Pro-democracy dissidents
continue to be harassed and to risk lengthy prison sentences for
minor public criticism of the regime.
COLOMBIA Under President Uribe, Colombia—the United
States’staunchest ally in the region—has continued to make
major progress in strengthening democracy by improving
security while energetically implementing a comprehensive
counternarcotics strategy.
Colombia’s better-trained security forces and improving
counterinsurgency capabilities have significantly weakened the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), confining
the group’s operations largely to ambushes and harassment
attacks. This is a major difference from the late 1990s when the
FARC regularly assaulted rural police garrisons and even
battalion-sized Army units. Bogota now holds the strategic
advantage because of the military’s sustained combat operations
in the FARC’s rural heartland and the permanent stationing of
security forces in regions previously dominated by the
insurgents. Key successes last year included the killing of two
prominent FARC Front commanders and the continuing high
number of FARC deserters.
FARC leaders increasingly rely on political tactics to try to
distract or restrain the government. The group’s recent release
of two Colombian hostages was a bid by the FARC to gain
international recognition and pressure the government into
offering it a demilitarized zone. The Uribe government
continues to work with the United States to secure the freedom
of three US hostages, who have been held captive for nearly
five years. The FARC currently holds about 750 hostages.
The second major prong of Uribe’s security strategy—
demobilizing and reintegrating paramilitaries into civilian
society—also has yielded important benefits. Government
successes against all the illegal armed groups have caused
murder and kidnapping rates to drop significantly, and the
improved security environment has helped fuel an economic
boom. Stepped-up efforts to prosecute human rights violators,
including in the security services, have contributed to a
gradually improving human rights picture. Bogota is taking
steps to follow through with proposals to strengthen the
judiciary and prosecute the murders of union members and
human rights workers.
Bogota’s counterdrug program continues to show
impressive results, particularly in interdiction, arrests of major
drug traffickers, and extradition. The police and military seized
65 metric tons of cocaine and cocaine base in 2006; it also
destroyed 200 cocaine labs. The government has approved
more than 550 extraditions to the United States since 2002,
including more than 100 cases in 2007. And Colombian
authorities captured kingpin Diego Montoya in September, the
country’s most important drug trafficker on the FBI’s Top Ten
list. Although aggressive US-supported aerial eradication has
diminished coca cultivation in some areas, coca farmers have
adapted by moving beyond the reach of the spray program or
taking actions to save or replace sprayed fields. In response, the
Uribe administration is combining spray efforts with increased
emphasis on manual eradication.
MEXICO The overall picture in Mexico is positive. President Felipe
Calderon’s strong start in his first year in office featured an
aggressive counternarcotics offensive, forging a working
relationship with elements of the opposition, securing a limited
revamping of the government pension system, and pushing
through Congress a high-priority fiscal reform package. The
public has supported most of Calderon’s policies, and
sustaining this momentum will be an important task as the
midterm election season approaches in 2009.
Illegal migration, drug smuggling and associated violence,
and human trafficking continue to threaten to Mexico’s internal
security and the security of the US southern border. Calderon’s
aggressive offensive against drug-trafficker-inspired violence
has led him to deploy 20,000 to 30,000 federal police and
soldiers to 10 Mexican states. A mid-year truce between major
Mexican drug cartels aimed at diminishing inter-cartel violence
appeared to reduce drug-related murders in certain areas last
summer; but drug violence remains high and indeed, criminal
violence has increased in frequency, brutality, and geographic
scope. The government also faces a rejuvenated threat from a
small group of domestic insurgents: bombings of Mexican oil
and natural gas pipelines marked a return to violence by the
radical leftist Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). In response,
Calderon has stepped up security of oil and gas pipelines.
To deter criminal activity, Calderon has deployed military
troops to bolster security in states plagued with drug violence
and extradited high-level traffickers to the United States. He is
seeking to reform Mexico’s police and judicial system, and has
subjected top federal police commanders to drug tests,
polygraphs, and a review of personal assets. While making
progress, sustained success will require long- term commitment.
AFRICA Persistent insecurity in Nigeria’s oil producing region, the
Niger Delta, poses a direct threat to US strategic interests in
sub-Saharan Africa. Ongoing instability and conflict in other
parts of Africa pose less direct though still significant threats to
US interests because of their high humanitarian and
peacekeeping costs, drag on democratic and economic
development, and potential to get worse.
President Yar’Adua has pledged to resolve the crisis in the
Niger Delta but faces many obstacles created by decades of
neglect, endemic corruption, mismanagement, environmental
degradation, and deep public mistrust of government. The
armed elements behind the violence, sabotage, kidnappings, and
oil theft appear to be splintered into numerous groups with
different agendas that are mostly criminal in focus.
Government officials, politicians, and military personnel have a
history of colluding with these groups. Nigeria’s corruptionprone
military has reined in some gang violence under the new
administration but lacks the capacity and resources to police
sprawling infrastructure in its swampy terrain. The military
could provoke even more unrest if it went on the offensive
against the armed groups.
Nigeria’s overall political stability remains fragile even
though tensions surrounding elections in 2007 have diminished.
The crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region shows few signs of
resolution, even if the planned UN peacekeeping force of
26,000 is fully deployed. The rebels are fractured; some of them
are prolonging the conflict for material gain and others regard
the Darfur Peace Agreement as serving Khartoum’s interests.
Khartoum also has failed to honor ceasefire agreements. Some
2.2 million Darfurians remain displaced. Sudan’s North-South
peace agreement also is in danger of collapse because of
mounting Southern frustration with the North’s failure to honor
core provisions on power and revenue sharing; military
redeployments, and border demarcation. The agreement is
further undermined by allegations of Southern corruption, lack
of expertise, and failure to participate in key implementation
Violence in Kenya after a close election marred by
irregularities represents a major setback in a country that had
long been among Africa’s most prosperous, peaceful and stable
countries, and one which gradually had progressed from
dictatorship to democracy. The situation remains in flux, but
President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga as yet
show few signs of meaningful compromise. The political
dispute has played itself out in ethnic violence that has so far
killed 500-1,000 and displaced as many as 250,000 people. It
has damaged, perhaps for the long-term, public trust in political
institutions and the democratization process. Kibaki probably
will do everything he can to hold on to power. Kenya is likely
to enter a period of increased social tension and instability,
which could affect its willingness and ability to cooperate with
the US on regional diplomatic and counterterrorist matters.
Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia in December 2006
quickly toppled the Council of Islamic Courts, a coalition of
business, clan and religious interests increasingly under the
influence of extremists with close ties to the Al-Qa’ida East
Africa terrorist network. Ethiopia’s intervention provoked an
insurgency and sharpened divisions among Somalis, making
governance close to impossible. The Ethiopian-backed
Transitional Federal Government is incapable of administering
Somalia and probably would flee Mogadishu or collapse if the
Ethiopians withdrew. Ethiopia’s counterinsurgency operations
in its own ethnic Somali region, the Ogaden, are blocking
access for relief workers and creating a humanitarian crisis that
risks hundreds of thousands.
Though the situation in the Democratic Republic of
Congo has vastly improved since the early 2000s, fighting in
2007 displaced more than 400,000 civilians and could draw in
neighboring countries if it resumes. The crisis underscores the
fragility of Congo’s post-war transition and the difficulty
President Kabila will continue to have in consolidating control
over the country.
Fledgling insurgencies among nomads in Mali and Niger
are likely to remain confined to the remote and sparsely
populated Sahara desert but nonetheless are a strain on the
security forces of these two impoverished democracies. The
insurgency in Niger also threatens uranium mining, which is
controlled by a French company.
Tensions between longtime enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea
have increased over the past year, with both sides seemingly
preparing for a new war. The last war killed about 80,000
soldiers on both sides. If conflict reignites, Ethiopian President
Meles’s own hold on power could be put in jeopardy if the war
went badly for him.
Serious threats to Zimbabwean President Mugabe have yet
to materialize despite hyperinflation, economic decline, and
political uncertainty. Ruling party insiders are divided and
appear unlikely to mount a credible challenge to Mugabe in the
near term. Opposition party leaders, who have been deeply
divided in the past, announced in late January that they would
unify behind a single candidate, but the opposition still appears
unlikely to mount a serious challenge to Mugabe’s authority.
Zimbabwe is likely to face a political standoff if Mugabe
suddenly departs the scene without ruling party consensus on
his successor.
Access to stable and affordably priced energy supplies has
long been a critical element of national security. Sustained
increases in global demand and the interactive effects of energy
with other issues have both magnified and broadened the
significance of developments in the global energy system. Oil
prices in late 2007 were near record levels and global spare
production capacity is below the market’s preferred cushion of
3 to 4 million barrels per day (b/d).
Despite a slowdown in the global economy, robust demand
from major developing country consumers has not eased and
other dynamics feeding high prices appear likely to endure.
Among these dynamics are: OPEC’s production restraint and
lackluster output growth from non-OPEC countries, refining
sector tightness, reduced oil inventories, a weaker US dollar,
and perceptions of multiple and serious geopolitical risks in the
face of low global spare production capacity. As the dollar has
weakened this year, some oil producers—such as Syria, Iran,
and Libya—have asked to be paid in currencies other than the
dollar while others—such as Kuwait—are delinking their
currency pegs to the dollar. Continued concerns about dollar
depreciation could tempt other major producers to follow suit.
Geopolitical uncertainties and tensions heighten the risk of
a major oil supply disruption and the attendant negative
repercussions for the global economy. Threats to Iraqi and
Nigerian oil output remain a concern despite some positive
developments last year. Terrorist attacks against Persian Gulf
oil facilities and the potential fallout from mounting tension
with Iran over its nuclear program are significant additional
In Iraq, completion of a new pipeline and security
improvements have helped Baghdad boost production and
exports in recent months by several hundred thousand barrels
per day, but output remains vulnerable to episodic violence.
Ethnic and political violence and criminal activity threaten
a large portion of Nigeria’s 2.2 million b/d of oil output.
Approximately 550,000 barrels per day (b/d) in potential oil
production, about a fifth of Nigeria’s production capacity, have
been offline since February 2006 because of militant attacks,
and probably another 100,000 b/d are stolen. Over the past two
years, the amount shut in has been as much as 900,000 b/d.
Even greater and more prolonged disruptions could occur again
with no advance warning, and this fear is contributing to
upward pressure on oil prices in international markets. US
companies have billions of dollars in investments in Nigeria.
Abuja has begun to take these problems more seriously and
directed national security assets to the area. However, local
militias, who target oil facilities and kidnap foreign oil company
personnel, will remain a persistent threat until political and
other grievances are addressed.
Public statements by al-Qa’ida leaders indicate that
terrorists are interested in striking Persian Gulf oil facilities.
Iran could withhold some or all of its 2.4-million barrels
per day oil exports or even try to impede the flow of 18 million
barrels per day of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if its pursuit
of the nuclear fuel cycle sparks a major crisis; however, we
assess Tehran is likely to take these provocative steps only if it
perceived it had little to lose. Venezuela’s President Chavez
has pledged solidarity with Iran and might also curtail some or
all of his country’s exports of about 2 million b/d in such a
High energy prices and escalating demand for oil and
natural gas, also has resulted in windfall profits for producers.
OPEC countries earned an estimated $690 billion from oil
exports last year, nearly three times the revenues earned in
2003. The increased revenues also have enabled producers like
Iran, Venezuela, Sudan, and Russia to garner enhanced
political, economic and even military advantages and
complicated multilateral efforts to address problems such as the
tragedy in Darfur and Iran’s nuclear program.
With about 70 percent of global oil reserves inaccessible or
of limited accessibility to outside oil companies, competition
between international oil companies to secure stakes in the few
countries open to foreign investment is likely to intensify.
Determined to secure the energy inputs necessary to fuel
continued robust economic growth, Chinese and Indian stateowned
and private energy companies are pursuing strategic
investments in energy assets worldwide. We also see a sharp
rise in Russia’s investment abroad, much of it driven by
Russian energy companies. Moscow is using the power of its
energy monopoly to ensure that East-West energy corridors
remain subject to Russian influence.
Global food prices also have been rising steadily over the
past two years driven by higher energy prices—which push up
input costs—weak harvests, historically low stocks, and robust
demand. Wheat prices were up over 60 percent in 2007, and are
at a 20-year high. Other foodstuffs such as vegetable oils also
are near records. There is little near term relief in sight because
production increases in several countries, including Australia,
are hampered by water shortages and land constraints. High
food prices in several countries, including Russia, China, India,
and Vietnam, are forcing governments to engage in market
distorting practices such as banning food exports, increasing
subsidies, or fixing prices: Food prices are likely to be an issue
in several upcoming elections, particularly Pakistan.
The double impact of high energy and food prices is
increasing the risk of social and political instability in
vulnerable countries. Corn protests in Mexico, bread riots in
Morocco, and recent unrest in Burma are directly linked to
higher food and energy prices. Higher food prices, as well as
rising transportation and logistical costs, also have outstripped
global aid budgets and adversely impacted the ability of donor
countries and organizations to provide food aid. For example,
the World Food Program’s food costs have increased by more
than 50 percent over the past five years and are projected to
grow another 35 percent by the end of the decade.
The international spread of infectious diseases and the
increasing emergence of new ones remain challenges to US
security. Even with the UN’s recent downgrading of the size of
the HIV/AIDS epidemic, that disease, malaria, and tuberculosis
together kill 6 million persons annually. The spread of
infectious disease is exacerbated by poverty, an insufficient
global health infrastructure, increasing globalization,
urbanization (especially in the developing world), migration,
complex humanitarian emergencies with resultant refugee
flows, and environmental degradation. Additionally, misuse of
antibiotics has led to an increase in resistant bacteria strains.
The most direct threat to the US is the spread of infectious
pathogens to our shores, or within areas where US personnel are
deployed. Disease also indirectly threatens us with its potential
impacts upon the international economy, civil society and
critical infrastructures. Even a relatively limited outbreak, as
happened with SARS in 2003, can have widespread ripple
effects. Even if an outbreak does not threaten the US directly,
the resulting instability or humanitarian emergency can place
additional demands on US military and financial resources.
The most pressing infectious disease challenge for the
United States is still the potential emergence of a severe
influenza pandemic. Although the avian H5N1 virus has
remained primarily a threat to poultry, it continues to expand its
geographic coverage, and to evolve—indeed it retains the
potential to evolve into a human pandemic strain.
A virulent virus from such an emerging pandemic also has
the potential to be used as a weapon by a terrorist group or a
technically experienced lone actor; such an attack would likely
be devastating, both economically and socially. While we do
not currently see this level of technical sophistication in terrorist
groups—isolating a virulent strain is difficult—the possibility
cannot be ruled out; therefore, we will continue to use our
intelligence resources to try to help detect any such preparations
to use a virus as a terrorist weapon.
CONCLUSION The issues that we consider here today confront responsible
citizens and their governments everywhere. I, my colleagues,
and the Intelligence Community we represent are fully
committed to arming our policymakers, warfighters, and law
enforcement officers with the best intelligence and analytic
insight we can. This is necessary to enable them to take the
actions and make the decisions that will protect American lives
and American interests, here and around the world.

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