TODAY

TODAY   |  April 09, 2013

N. Korea is ‘asserting its muscularity,’ says Blair 

Tony Blair, who warned of trouble with North Korea when he left office as British Prime Minister, says, “this is an unusual and dangerous situation,” and reflects on the life of fellow former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, calling her “very kind and very warm.”

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tony blair served as prime minister of great britain from 1997 to 2007 . he joins us this morning exclusively. prime minister blair always good to see you. thanks for your time. you said once of margaret thatcher very few leaders get to change not only the political landscape of their country but the world. what's the most important way in which she changed the world?

>> i think the policies she introduced in respect to the balance between the state and the market, selling off the state industries , putting trade unions within a proper legal framework, some of the measures to do with taxation and spending, there was a philosophy that even people and i come from the opposite side of the political fence even people on the opposite side of the political fence took loss lessons and applied them not just in the uk but around the world. she was a very controversial figure. you got to say she was a towering fight and her impact was a global one.

>> i know she visited you on several occasions while you were prime minister. according to the "new york times" she may have preferred you over john major . did you seek her counsel on key issues?

>> yes, i did. when she would come in and see me she was always -- it was one of the paradoxes about margaret thatcher she this image of being an iron lady . but she was very kind and very warm and interesting when i came into downing street in 1997 the staff in downing street , the people who do the chores and keep the place running, they were always very, very generous about her and regarded her highly.

>> while i have you here i need to ask you a question about some current events. it was back in 2003 , prime minister blair, you said after iraq we need to deal with north korea and their weapons program. three years later you condemned that regime for their nuclear test . you've seen what's happened lately. i want seems on a daily basis north korea either threatens the u.s. or south korea . is this something more, in your opinion, than a new leader saying to the world hey look at me?

>> it's a good question. i'm not sure we know the answer to it, frankly. and this is the problem when you've got a regime that doesn't really conform to any recognized rules with nuclear weapons capability. so it's a very tough situation. now, i think and i hope that ultimately this is saber rattling , an attempt to deal with the regime's internal problems by having external focus. it's asserting its muscularity, if you like, but this is an unusual and going to be a dangerous situation as a result of the nature of the regime and the capabilities they have. so, i know behind the scenes it's hard to talk about all these things publicly, there will be enormous efforts going into making sure that regime gets a clear and strong message but this is a situation where if you like what the korean peninsula , you got south korea , north korea , same people, divided. it's almost like a laboratory experiment, south korea having come from nothing to being one of the leading industrial countries and north korea 's people under abject poverty.

>> mr. prime minister, it's always nice to see you. thanks very much.

>> thanks, matt.