Russia's War In Ukraine Pushes Iconic Doomsday Clock 90 Seconds Close To Midnight

The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic design which attempts to gauge how close humanity is to destroying the world, has been reset at 90 seconds until midnight — the closest to the hour in its 76-year history.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has reset the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock 25 times since its debut in 1947. Most recently, BAS Science and Security Board, which includes 10 Nobel Laureates, moved it from 100 seconds to midnight to 90 seconds to midnight.

The hands of the clock are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on the scientists’ reading of existential threats at a particular time. Midnight marks the theoretical point of annihilation.

BAS cites Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation as the main reasons for setting the needle closer to the Doomsday.

The new Clock time was also influenced by continuing threats posed by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks associated with advancing technologies and biological threats such as Covid-19.

Rachel Bronson, PhD, president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. 90 seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts do not take lightly.

He urged leaders of the US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine to explore a multitude of channels for dialogue to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock.

The Doomsday Clock statement explains that Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks. “And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high”.

It says that by extending its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, Russia has violated international protocols and risks widespread release of radioactive materials. “Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed.”

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