Defense Sec: 'God Forbid' Things Escalate with North Korea and Cause 'Very Big War'

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Marines at Miramar on Wednesday that “God forbid” things escalate with North Korea “simply because that’s a very big war.”

South Korea’s defense ministry and Japanese media warned this week that Pyongyang appears to be readying a long-range missile launch. That comes on the heels of the North’s fourth nuclear test last month.

Carter was asked at a troop event where he thinks Marines will be deployed next, as well as what the most important threats are — including North Korea — that the U.S. will face in the future.

“We have to recognize also this ideology has spread to some other places and so we’re going to need to take care of it there,” he first said of the need to fight ISIS. “And we’re going to need to defend ourselves here at the homeland.  I’m certain the Marine Corps will be involved in that.”

“If, to get to the other part of your question, God forbid, something happens on the Korean Peninsula, and we stand ready every day to make sure that the North Koreans understand that’s not a good move for them,” Carter added. “But the reason that they should believe that and be deterred is that they know the awesome capability that will surely defeat them, and that very much would involve the Marine Corps.”

“Again, I say God forbid simply because that’s a very big war and they — so it’s not something that you wish to occur, but we have to take everything seriously.”

The Defense secretary said he wished “I could tell you everywhere in the world we will be,” but “we almost never get that right and that’s why our strategy has to be broad.”

“We have to be ready for lots of things. And that’s why full-spectrum readiness and the well-rounded capabilities of the Marine Corps are so important, because I can’t give you a fully accurate answer to that,” Carter said. “…We’ve got to be ready for lots of stuff.”

The Senate will vote next week on Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which sanctions individuals who contribute to North Korea’s nuclear program and proliferation activities, imposes mandatory sanctions on cybercriminals, and penalizes officials involved in censorship and the regime’s continued human rights abuses.