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FILE PHOTO - U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter attends a press conference with Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon at the Foreign Office in London, December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(reuters_tickers)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities and ballistic missile defence programs constitute a "serious threat" to the United States, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Sunday.

The United States is prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile launch or test "if it were coming towards our territory or the territory of our friends and allies," Carter said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Reuters