ASHINGTON, March 30 - A Department of Homeland Security internal report that assesses terrorist organizations, their anticipated targets and preferred weapons concludes that the threat to the United States presented by North Korea and several other countries long described as "state sponsors of terrorism" is declining.
"In the post-9/11 environment, countries do not appear to be facilitating or supporting terrorist groups intent on striking the U.S. homeland," says the draft report, which is intended to help the Homeland Security agency define its spending priorities through 2011.
Of the six nations identified by the State Department as terrorist sponsors, five of them - North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Cuba - are described by Homeland Security as a "diminishing concern." Iran, the final country on the list, alone is described as a potential threat over the next five years.
"Only Iran appears to have the possible future motivation to use terrorist groups, in addition to its own state agents, to plot against the U.S. homeland," the report says, adding that "ideologically driven nonstate actors" are the biggest threat.
Terrorism experts said Wednesday that while the assessment seemed accurate, it was an unusual statement for the Bush administration, which has often called North Korea and several other nations serious threats.
"The administration has been very reluctant to accept that state sponsorship is a waning phenomenon," said Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a co-author of "The Age of Sacred Terror."
This is the first time the two-year-old department has prepared what will now be an annual Integrated Planning Guidance Report, a document that is listed as "sensitive" but not classified, meaning it was not intended to be released publicly.
The goal, said Brian Roehrkasse, a department spokesman, is to better focus the department's $40 billion in annual spending toward the most serious threats.
Al Qaeda, not unexpectedly, tops a list of adversaries in the report, although the authors question if the group can still pull off attacks similar in scale to those of Sept. 11, 2001.
Other predicted possible sponsors of attacks include Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani-based group that has been linked to Muslims of America; Jamaat al Tabligh, an Islamic missionary organization that has a presence in the United States; and the American Dar Al Islam Movement. Representatives for the organizations could not be reached Wednesday for comment or did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages.
The report, which was first disclosed last week on the Congressional Quarterly Web site, identifies animal rights activists and radical environmentalists as possible backers of plots. But it does not mention any domestic extremist groups, like World Church of the Creator, Aryan Nations or anti-abortion activists, which have previously been identified by federal officials as domestic terrorist threats.
In assessing the most likely targets, the report says that "visual symbols" - like the White House, the Capitol, the Pentagon and the C.I.A. headquarters - as well as "American popular culture icons" - including the Golden Gate Bridge, George Washington Bridge and the Statue of Liberty - top the list.
The report says increasing security may simply force a change in the weapons terrorists would try to use, for example mortars or rockets to attack from a distance. Truck bombs and small boats packed with explosives are identified as other extremely likely weapons of choice.