The U.S. military might monitor a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test and gather intelligence rather than destroy it, as long as the launch did not pose a threat, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday.
North Korea declared on Sunday it could test-launch an ICBM at any time from any location set by leader Kim Jong Un, saying a hostile U.S. policy was to blame for its arms development.
"If the missile is threatening,it will be intercepted. If it's not threatening, we won't necessarily do so," Carter said in his final news briefing before President Barack Obama's administration leaves office on Jan. 20.
"Because it may be more to our advantage to, first of all, save our interceptor inventory, and, second, to gather intelligence from the flight, rather than do that (intercept the ICBM) when it's not threatening."