President Clinton predicts the 21st century will bring cures for AIDS and cancer, but also the threat of chemical and biological weapons so tiny they can be held in a hand.
"I wish I was going to live to be 150. I'd love to see what happens," the president said in a CBS "60 Minutes II" interview to be telecast tonight.
In his speculative, off-the-cuff remarks, Clinton said a chemical or germ warfare attack is possible in the United States during the new century. He did not spell out the scenario in which he thinks someone might launch such an attack.
"I think it's highly likely that someone will try" to launch a chemical or germ attack, Clinton said in the interview, which was taped last week. The network released a transcript yesterday.
"The organized forces of destruction will take maximum advantage of new technologies, and new scientific developments, just like democratic societies do," Clinton said.
"Bad guys" will try to harness the same kinds of technological advances that have produced tiny, hand-held personal organizers and computers, he said.
"Now you've got these gadgets where you can use [them] as a telephone or a typewriter, and do e-mail and all that," Clinton said. "Well, the same miniaturization will apply to biological and chemical weapons."
The president added that he is trying to make sure the United States is ready for such innovations.
"We've just got to be ready," he said. "There will always be bad guys out there in the world who will try to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities."
Clinton, who often speaks of scientific research with evident fascination, predicted that the new century will bring a cure for many kinds of cancer, a high-tech, computerized fix for paralyzing spinal cord injuries, and a vaccine for the deadly AIDS virus. The lengthening of human lifespans will continue, he predicted.
Meanwhile, Clinton is spending the last week of the 20th century working on the millennium speech he will give on New Year's Eve as well as the budget he plans to submit to Congress early in the year, spokeswoman Julia Payne said yesterday.