Recent data from the GRIP ice core in Greenland suggest that the climate of the last (Eemian) interglacial period was much less stable than that of the present interglacial. Rapid transitions between warm and cold periods were found to occur on timescales of just a few decades. The North Atlantic climate during the Eemian period was also shown to be characterized by three states, respectively warmer than, similar to and colder than today. Recent data from the nearby GISP2 ice core have revealed some discrepancies with these findings, which remain to be resolved. Here we present simulations using an idealized global ocean model, which suggest that the North Atlantic ocean has three distinct circulation modes, each of which corresponds to a distinct climate state. We find that adding a simple random component to the mean freshwater flux (which forces circulation) can induce rapid transitions between these three modes.