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Friday, February 08, 2008

US Sees Russia, China, OPEC Financial Threat

Will the West's enemies exploit a possible US recession for political advantage?

Are the Kennedys gunshy?

From Reuters

WASHINGTON- The United States is worried that Russia, China and OPEC oil-producing countries could use their growing financial clout to advance political goals, the top U.S. spy chief told Congress on Tuesday.

Such economic matters joined terrorism, nuclear proliferation and computer-network vulnerabilities as top U.S. security threats described by National Director of Intelligence Michael McConnell in an annual assessment.

McConnell said U.S. intelligence agencies had "concerns about the financial capabilities of Russia, China and OPEC countries and the potential use of their market access to exert financial leverage to political ends."

Russia, bolstered in part by oil revenues, was positioning itself to control an energy supply and transportation network from Europe to East Asia, and the Russian military had begun to reverse a long decline, he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

China has pursued a policy of global engagement out of a desire to expand its growing economy and obtain access markets, resources, technology and expertise, McConnell said.

It seeks a constructive relationship with the United States and other countries, but as its influence grows "Beijing probably will increasingly expect its interests to be respected by other countries," he said.

Russia and China have long been able to target U.S. computer systems to collect intelligence, he said. "The worrisome part is, today, they also could target information infrastructure systems for degradation or destruction."

In the energy sector, a weak U.S. dollar had prompted some oil suppliers, including Iran, Syria and Libya, to ask for payment in other currencies, or to delink their currencies from the dollar, McConnell said. "Continued concerns about dollar depreciation could tempt other producers to follow suit."

Hat tip Once upon A Time In The West

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