The DNI is charged with overseeing the 16 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, including the CIA and the NSA. And the soon-to-be head of the DNI says North Korea's alleged sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan may herald a "dangerous new period".
James Clapper told a Senate hearing that Pyongyang might seek "to advance its internal and external political goals through direct attacks".
"The most important lesson for all of us in the intelligence community from this year's provocations by Pyongyang is to realise that we may be entering a dangerous new period when North Korea will once again attempt to advance its internal and external political goals through direct attacks on our allies in the Republic of Korea."
"Coupled with this is a renewed realisation that North Korea's military forces still pose a threat that cannot be taken lightly," he added.
Earlier, the US and South Korea said they would hold large-scale joint military exercises next weekend in a show of force intended to "send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop".