Clapper testified Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, The Washington Times reported. He suggested states such as Iran and North Korea that are trying to achieve nuclear capability are lesser threats than the major nuclear powers.
"We have a treaty, the New START treaty, with the Russians. I guess I would rank them a little lower because we don't have such a treaty with the Chinese," Clapper said when Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., asked him to name the country that poses the biggest danger.
China is also believed to be building up its nuclear arsenal.
Pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee's chairman, Clapper said he was talking about national capabilities, not whether they are hostile at the moment. He said Russia and China "potentially represent a broad threat."
I don't think either country today has the intent to mortally attack us."