Defense Secretary Won't Say If Nuclear Launch Timeframe Is Classified Info

Susan Jones | October 21, 2016 | 11:22am EDT
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter (AP File Photo)

( - Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday refused to answer a reporter's question about a possible intelligence disclosure by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

At Wednesday's final presidential debate, Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Republican Donald Trump of being "very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons."

According to Clinton, "The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed. There's about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so."

CNN's veteran Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr read Clinton's quote to Secretary Carter at a news conference on Thursday, then asked him, "Is it classified to discuss the nuclear launch timeframe? It's either classified or it's not."

"I'm sorry, but I'm not going to answer your first part because it is cast in terms of the ongoing presidential campaign, and I said repeatedly I'm not going to answer questions in that context. So, not going to answer on that one," Carter said.

He did answer the second part of Starr's question, about the likelihood of provocations from North Korea during the transition of political power in the United States:

"Kim Jong Un is unpredictable. He is prone to provocations," Carter said. He said the U.S. and its ally South Korea are involved in "counter-provocation" planning and consultation, every time North Korea acts up, "As necessary, our two presidents are on the phone to coordinate our response."

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