Video: Clinton on global initiative, G8

By Ron Insana Anchor
updated 7/12/2005 7:18:43 PM ET 2005-07-12T23:18:43

The biggest threat to the United States and European nations is the potential for terrorist groups to get their hands on a bomb — or the technology to build one — from a rogue nation like North Korea, according to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who spoke with CNBC’s Ron Insana in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

“Clearly, the terrorist networks and the al-Qaida mindset, if you will, and the capacity of people to get their hands on bomb-making materials presents the biggest threat at home, whether you’re at home in Europe, or the United States, or any other country of the world, and a far more significant threat in the short run than any nation has presented for a long time,” Clinton said, referring to the deadly series of bombings in London late last week and the global terrorist threat.

“People can find these bomb-making materials all over the world,” Clinton said. “And it means that when the United States is dealing with countries with which we have differences, we need to understand which of these differences contribute to terrorist networks,” he added.

“For example, if you take North Korea ... the real problem is they can’t grow their own food and make their own energy, but they are great at making bombs and missiles, Clinton continued. North Korea is unlikely to launch an attack on the United States, he said. “But if you have a country that can’t grow food and stay warm of its own initiative, then the temptation to sell technology, or rockets, or materials is enormous. So that’s why it’s important to form a deal with North Korea.”

Clinton added that, given North Korea’s need to be a respected player in Asia and feed its people, he is optimistic that a deal would soon be reached. “There are ingredients of a deal there,” he said “I think that can happen and will happen.” Video: Clinton on global terror, energy

In a wide-ranging interview, Clinton also discussed soaring U.S. energy costs and the need to reform energy policy, his forthcoming Clinton Global Initiative and the G8 leaders' summit in Scotland and its decision to double aid for Africa to $50 billion by 2010 and end farm export subsidies — a major demand of African nations.

“Given the way the G8 works, it’s a good first step,” he said.

The first annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative is scheduled for mid-September in New York and will coincide with the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Leaders of the world’s non-governmental organizations (NGO) will address global challenges in four areas: poverty, religion, climate change and governance.

“I don’t want to have just another meeting where people talk, although I think they are quite valuable,” he said.

“I wanted to give [those invited] an opportunity to speak to American and some non-American business leaders and NGO folks here from around the world and discuss what specifically we can do to help improve a lot of the challenging problems around the world,” Clinton added.

“This will be, quite emphatically, two days and only four topics, and we will discuss what people who come here can do to improve the governance in developing countries, to reduce poverty, to deal with climate change to promote religious and ethnic reconciliation and what the economic benefits can be.”

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