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US 2018 elections 'under attack' by Russia: US intelligence chief

"We expect Russian Federation to continue using propaganda social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States", he said.

US intelligence leaders warned a Senate committee Tuesday that Russian Federation will continue to try and influence elections in the United States this year. "But I believe we still don't have a comprehensive plan".

The intelligence chiefs' testimony coincided with the release of the government's annual intelligence report on global threats. The heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and three other spy agencies were unanimous in saying that Moscow's efforts to disrupt USA politics are as strong as they were in 2016.

King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the attacks on USA democracy will continue.

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Coats further added: "These new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation of dynamics and security in the region". A part of many of these malign actors is their use of cyber, the nation's top intelligence official said.

The other major worldwide threat discussed, as expected, was the continued development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, with analysts commenting that they expect the regime to test a high altitude missile over the Pacific ocean sometime in 2018. "And I encourage our folks not to get hung up with what I consider the noise on TV and social media". An investigation by a House intelligence committee has led to partisan squabbling between Republicans and Democrats.

But as has been the case for years, the intelligence leaders presented cyberactivities of rival nations and rogue groups as the foremost threat facing the United States.

"But we're talking about a major attack on our democracy that's ongoing, that's going to continue", he said.

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Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats pointed to the North Korean regime developing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, building up its conventional weapons, and threatening USA allies as evidence that Pyongyang is growing more unsafe. While Coats said he hopes America will reach a peaceful settlement with Kim Jong Un, he added that North Korea's repeated claims that its nuclear program has ensured the country's survival indicate that North Korean leaders "do not intend to negotiate [their nuclear weapons] away".

He said that some of the actors "including Russian Federation, are likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances".

President Donald Trump is facing sharp criticism for failing to act decisively to head off potential attempts by Russian Federation to interfere in the upcoming US midterm elections.

Sen. Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and chairman of the committee, said a comprehensive overview of findings about what happened during the 2016 election will be made public before this year's primary elections so that security can be intensified.

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