The world is one step closer to a nuclear catastrophe. Renowned scientists have set the so-called Doomsday Clock half a minute forward: it is now 2,5 minutes before 12, half a minute later than last year. Since 1953, the clock hasn’t been closer to midnight.
The public threats by new US President Donal Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons, North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests, and the increasing tension between nuclear powers India and Pakistan led the scientists to set the clock forward.
Selma van Oostwaard, campaigner on nuclear disarmament at PAX, says, “The reset of the Doomsday Clock shows just how important it is that negotiations for a global ban on nuclear weapons get under way in at the UN in March. This kind of international tension doesn’t have to be an obstacle to disarmament: even during the height of the Cold War, there were negotiations on reducing the nuclear arsenals. Plus, a legally binding ban would raise the threshold for using nuclear weapons, and causing a global catastrophe, even higher.”
Danger for people and the environment
The Doomsday Clock was established in 1947 by scientists working on the Manhattan Project, where the first nuclear weapons were developed. Under the banner of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, these experts knew better than anyone the dangers for people and the environment these weapons represented and wanted to communicate that to the public. The Doomsday Clock indicates, based on technical and geopolitical developments, how acute the danger of a nuclear disaster is.
The closest the clock has been to midnight was in 1953, when it was 2 before 12 due to the development of the hydrogen bomb in the United States. This type of bomb is many times more powerful than the type which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.