The Latest: Intelligence chief warns of more terror attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the worldwide threat assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies (all times local):

10:05 a.m.

President Barack Obama is reassuring the leaders of South Korea and Japan that the U.S. will defend its allies following a worrisome rocket launch by North Korea.

The White House says Tuesday that Obama spoke with South Korean President Park Geun-hye (goon-hay) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) on Monday evening. Obama is condemning the North’s rocket launch and calling it a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The leaders are calling for a strong global response including a new Security Council resolution.

The diplomacy comes after Pyongyang launched a rocket it says was solely to carry a satellite into orbit. The U.S. and others worry it was a cover for a long-range missile test.

South Korea and Japan are both U.S. treaty allies.


9:55 a.m.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper is telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea has expanded a uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that could start recovering spent fuel in weeks or months.

He delivered the annual assessment by U.S. Intelligence agencies of the top dangers facing the country.

Clapper says in his opening statement that Pyongyang announced in 2013 its intention to refurbish and restart nuclear facilities, to include the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon and its graphite-moderated plutonium production reactor, which was shut down in 2007.


9:43 a.m.

Clapper says Islamic militants will continue plotting against U.S. interests overseas and homegrown attacks will pose the most significant threat to Americans at home.

He says the perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America — such as those in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and San Bernardino, California — might motivate others to replicate the attacks. That would diminish the U.S. ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness, he said.

Clapper also said Iran remains the top state sponsor of terrorism and al-Qaida-linked groups remain resilient. He said the U.S. will continue to see cyber threats from China, Russia and North Korea.