When specifically asked at a press conference with his UK counterpart at the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he’s still not ruling out terrorism in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
“I don’t think at this point we can rule anything in or out. I think we have to continue to search, as we are. And you know the United States continues to stay committed,” Hagel said.
He noted the U.S. has aircraft working out of Malaysia and Perth, Australia, to assist in the search.
“So until we have more information, we don’t know,” he added.
On what it means for how the U.S. can prepare security-wise, Hagel said “I think any country — and I can only speak for the United States — always is evolving and is always recognizing new challenges and threats and trying to anticipate those.”
“That’s the mission of this enterprise, security of this country, working with all our interagency partners, intelligence, homeland security,” he said. “So the world is dangerous. We recognize that. There are new threats coming at us in different ways all the time. So you have to continue to prepare.”
UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond concurred that “we cannot rule out anything at this stage.”
“And until — unless and until we recover the cockpit voice recorder, we will not know for certain, and that search goes on, and we, too, are assisting in the search, and we just have to hope that we will be successful in locating that vital piece of evidence,” Hammond said.
Hammond was asked if they’re concerned that no radar apparently picked up a plane that flew for hours without a transponder operational.
“Well, the United Kingdom by its geography has a rather smaller area of airspace to worry about than the southern Indian Ocean, but I am — I remain completely confident that any aircraft of any type flying without a transponder operational in U.K. airspace would be detected and intercepted immediately,” he said.