Carter: 'Foolish' Bush World War III comment 'must have been misquoted'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday November 2, 2007
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Former President Jimmy Carter has responded to George W. Bush's comment that if Iran even acquires the knowledge of how to make a nuclear bomb it could mean World War III, calling it "a foolish statement for anybody to make."

Carter told CNN, "Every year at the Carter Center, we bring in about 35 nations from around the world, all of whom know how to make atomic weapons. ... Argentina and Brazil and Egypt and Saudi Arabia ... it's no longer a secret. And so just to say that if someone has the knowledge of doing it, that we're going to go to war with them -- I really believe that the president must have been misquoted."

Carter suggested there were two things we ought to be doing to prevent Iran actually building a bomb. "One of them is to talk directly to them, to have diplomatic relations with Iran, to let them know about the seriousness of it. ... And the second is to quit making threatening statements from the highest levels in government that we might launch an attack on Iran. That would make any country want to build up their military capability."

"Cool it off and talk to them," was how Carter's summarized the situation, and though he acknowledged that Vice President Cheney has been pressing for war, he said that since speaking recently with Secretary of State Rice he did not think confrontation was inevitable and believed that "cooler heads will prevail."

Carter declined to make any comment on the likely Democratic presidential nominee, saying, "I'm not a very good predictor. ... I just hope that we'll have a Democrat in the White House, because I notice the Republicans are debating about who's going to attack Iran quicker and who's going to keep Guantanamo open longer and who's going to torture prisoners the hardest."

Carter also recalled that, like Dennis Kucinich, he had once seen a UFO, back when he was a peanut farmer. "I and about 25 others saw something in the air that changed colors and was round and came and left. We couldn't figure out what it was. It was unidentified as far as we were concerned." But he added that he believed it was "impossible" for it to have been space people.

A partial transcript of the interview can be read here.

The following video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on November 2, 2007.