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​Potential adversaries will likely take advantage of the changing US presidential administration to flex nuclear muscles through tests, the head of the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he expects countries like North Korea, Russia, and China to take advantage of the changing administration by testing missiles and nuclear devices. Tests such as these show how important it is that the US has a credible deterrent, because “diminished US credibility in the world equals a more dangerous world,” Thornberry said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who spoke alongside Thornberry, added that the credibility of the US deterrent is reliant on the military publicly showing its ability to respond. “We ought to make it very clear to them that we will respond in kind,” Panetta said. “We're strong enough to be able to respond in kind if we have to. I do think we have to make it clear to North Korea that they can't continue to develop nuclear weapons without crossing some lines that we have to make clear.”