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Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 10:03

Russia 'might shoot down' US aircraft in Syria

By Associated Press

Russia 'might shoot down' US aircraft in Syria
In this Feb 9, 2016, file photo, Director of the National Intelligence James Clapper speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON — Russia could shoot down a US aircraft if a no-fly zone were imposed over Syria, National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Tuesday.

"I wouldn't put it past them to shoot down an American aircraft if they felt that was threatening to their forces on the ground," Clapper said, speaking with CBS' Charlie Rose at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York about several national security issues.

Russia could shoot down a US aircraft if a no-fly zone were imposed over Syria, the US National Intelligence Director said

Russia has deployed a very advanced and capable air defense system in Syria and would not have done that if it wouldn't use it, Clapper said.

The Obama administration has refrained from setting up a no-fly, or safe, zone for civilians in Syria partly because of the complexity in staffing and enforcing it and the potential for direct military confrontation between the US and Russia. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for a no-fly zone over parts of Syria. Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence has also called for a no-fly zone over Syria, but Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, has yet to take a firm position.

A 'lost cause'

On the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Clapper said he thought that the US policy of trying to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons is probably futile. Perhaps the only thing the US could get would be limitations on DPRK's nuclear capabilities, he said.

"I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause," Clapper said.

DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.

The Obama administration has consistently demanded that DPRK agree to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. That is the goal of six-nation aid-for-disarmament negotiations that have been stalled since DPRK pulled out of the talks in 2009. The US says resumption of those talks, which were hosted by China, requires DPRK to recommit to denuclearization. The government of young leader Kim Jong-un, however, appears intent on retaining and increasing its nuclear arsenal.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday there had been no change in US policy toward DPRK.

Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the US would respond "at the time of our choosing. And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact."

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