Hagel, Dempsey discuss challenges in North Korea and Iran

The U.S. must be prepared for every option and contingency when it comes to the unpredictable nature of North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday.

Hagel made the statement before a Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee on Tuesday as he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey testified on the Defense Department's budget. The senators asked questions related to the threats of North Korea, Iran and cyberattacks.

"We know the kind of armaments and artillery that (North Korea has) lined up against Seoul, (and) their capacity," Hagel said. "We have to be prepared for every option, every contingency."

That preparation included the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in Guam to protect U.S. assets.

Dempsey said the U.S. national security interests related to North Korea are to defend the homeland, preserve the Korean Armistice, protect America's allies in the region and mitigate the threat of North Korea's weapons.

On Iran, Dempsey and Hagel said Tehran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon, but it may be positioning itself to preserve the option. Hagel said U.S. policy remains the prevention of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities.

Hagel said the U.S. and China also spent time at the presidential level discussing the accusations of China's involvement in cyberattacks.

"I specifically noted that we were aware that many of these attacks are emanating from China," Hagel said. "(Cyberattacks are) probably the most insidious, dangerous, threat overall to this country, and there are lots of threats."