Outgoing Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning and took questions from host Chuck Todd on general U.S. defense responses to everything from Russian hacking to the war on the Islamic State to the lack of action on the Syrian red line.
Carter responded to whether or not Russian hacking is an "act of war" as Arizona Sen. John McCain termed it, and whether or not Obama's failure on the Syrian red line created a vacuum that allowed Russia to move into the region.
On the whole, Carter never deviated from defense talking points standard for President Barack Obama's administration. However, when Todd gets to North Korea, Carter takes a decisively more aggressive tone.
Todd mentions an op-ed Carter co-wrote 10 years prior with former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry that advocated a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, and asked if Carter still took that stance. Check out Carter's response below:
From a transcript of the exchange:
Carter: "With respect to North Korea today...their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defense programs are a serious threat to us. We try to stay ahead of that...we are staying ahead of that. With our missile defenses, to make sure we've upgraded their number; their types, so that we're sure we can defend ourselves. We've developed missile defenses in South Korea, Japan, Guam; and of course we have 28,500 troops there today, Chuck...their slogan is 'fight tonight.' We're ready to defend the Korean peninsula and defend our friends and interests there. So in the defense department our job is to stay one step ahead."
Todd: "Is it policy now that if they test an intermediate range ballistic missile, the United States would shoot it down?"
Carter: "If it were threatening to us, yes...or one of our friends or allies, yes we would shoot it down."
Watch the entire interview below: