In the coming year, the United States and its allies will face an increasingly complex and interconnected global security environment marked by the growing specter of great power competition and conflict, while collective and transnational threats against all nations and all actors compete for our attention and our limited resources. . These challenges will play out amid continued global disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, discord over global efforts to address climate change, increasingly powerful non-state actors, and evolving technology. rapidly changing, all against the backdrop of a changing world order. where the continued diffusion of power leads actors to reassess their place and capacities in an increasingly multipolar world. These challenges will intersect and interact in unpredictable ways, resulting in mutually reinforcing effects that could challenge our ability to respond, but also introducing new opportunities to forge collective action with allies and partners against both the renewed threat of nation-state aggression and emerging threats to human security. The 2022 Annual Threat Assessment highlights some of these connections, as it provides the Intelligence Community (IC) baseline assessments of the most pressing threats to U.S. national interests, while highlighting the emphasis on the main adversaries and competitors of the United States. It is not an exhaustive assessment of all global challenges and notably excludes assessments of the vulnerabilities of US adversaries. It considers functional concerns, such as weapons of mass destruction and cyber, primarily in sections on threat actors, such as China and Russia.
Competition and potential conflict between nation states remains a critical threat to national security. Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Pyongyang have demonstrated their ability and intention to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and its allies. China is increasingly a close competitor to its peers, challenging the United States in multiple areas – particularly economically, militarily and technologically – and pushing to change global norms and potentially threatening its neighbors. Russia pushes Washington back where it can, locally and globally, employ techniques that go as far as the use of force. In Ukraine, we can see the results of Russia’s increased willingness to use military threats and force to impose its will on its neighbors. Iran will remain a regional threat with broader malign influence activities, and North Korea will expand its WMD capabilities while being a disruptive player on the regional and global stages. Major adversaries and competitors are building and exercising their military, cyber, and other capabilities, increasing risks to U.S. and allied forces, weakening our conventional deterrence, and aggravating the long-standing threat from weapons of mass destruction. As states such as China and Russia increasingly view space as a domain of warfare, multilateral discussions on space security have taken on greater importance as a means of reducing the risk of confrontation. that would affect each state’s ability to operate safely in outer space.
The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to strain governments and societies, fueling humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest and geopolitical competition as countries like China and Russia seek advantages through through channels such as “vaccine diplomacy”. No country has been completely spared, and even when a vaccine is widely distributed around the world, the economic and political backlash will be felt for years. Heavily indebted low-income countries face particularly difficult recoveries and the potential for cascading crises leading to regional instability, while others will become inward-looking or distracted by other challenges. The IC continues to investigate the concerning implications of abnormal health events and the danger they pose to US personnel.
Ecological degradation and climate change will continue to fuel epidemics, threaten food and water security, and exacerbate political instability and humanitarian crises. Great-power competition and disputes between rich and low-income countries will threaten progress in the collective action that will be needed to meet global targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Other transnational challenges will pose an array of direct and indirect threats to the United States. They will interact in complex and cascading ways with each other and with the threats posed by great power competition, increasingly powerful non-state actors, the pandemic and climate change. Emerging and disruptive technologies, and the proliferation and penetration of technology into all aspects of our lives, pose unique challenges. The scourge of transnational organized crime, illicit drugs, violent extremism, and corruption endemic in many countries will continue to wreak havoc on the lives, prosperity, and security of Americans. State and non-state cyber actors threaten our infrastructure and provide avenues for threats of malign foreign influence against our democracy. We will see continued potential for migration surges from Afghanistan, Latin America and other poor countries, which are reeling from conflict and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic and political conditions in Latin America continue to trigger waves of migration that destabilize our southern neighbors and put pressure on our southern border. Finally, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran and its militant allies will take advantage of weak governance to continue planning terrorist attacks against American persons and interests, including to varying degrees in the United States. , and exacerbate instability in regions such as Africa and the Middle East.
Regional instability and conflict continue to threaten American people and interests. Some have direct security implications for the United States. For example, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan threatens US interests, including the possibility of resurgent terrorist havens and humanitarian catastrophe. Continued fighting in Syria has a direct impact on US forces, while tensions between India and nuclear-armed Pakistan remain a global concern. Iterative violence between Israel and Iran, and conflicts in other regions, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East, have the potential to escalate or expand, fueling crises humanitarian and threatening American people, as in the case of Al-Shabaab, which takes advantage of the continued instability in East Africa and the lack of security capacity of the States of the region to threaten American interests and the life of Americans.
The 2022 Annual Threat Assessment Report supports the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s commitments to transparency and the tradition of providing regular threat updates to the American public and the United States Congress. The IC is vigilant in monitoring and assessing direct and indirect threats against US and allied interests. As part of this ongoing effort, IC national intelligence officers work closely with analysts across the IC to examine the spectrum of threats and highlight the most likely and most impactful within the context of the longer-term overall threat environment.