The Guardian

Doomsday Clock edges closest to midnight over Ukraine crisis

- Julian Borger

A panel of internatio­nal scientists has warned that humanity’s continued existence is at greater risk than ever before, largely as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight the clock has been since it was establishe­d in 1947 to illustrate the threat from nuclear weapons.

Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of the Bulletin, said the clock had been moved forward from 100 seconds to midnight, where it had rested for three years, “largely, though not exclusivel­y, because of the mounting dangers in the war in Ukraine”.

“We are living in a time of unpreceden­ted danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. Ninety 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,” Bronson said.

The hands of the clock are set each year by the Bulletin’s science and security board with the support of the its board of sponsors, which includes 10 Nobel laureates.

In a statement it said: “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,” the statement said, adding that the Russian invasion had placed the Chornobyl and Zaporizhzh­ia nuclear sites in the midst of a war zone.

The closest the clock came during the cold war was two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the first detonation of a hydrogen bomb. After the Cuban missile crisis, the hands were left at seven minutes to midnight because it appeared to have given Washington and Moscow fresh impetus to work towards arms control.

 ?? ?? ▲ A 1953 Soviet hydrogen bomb test put it at two minutes to midnight
▲ A 1953 Soviet hydrogen bomb test put it at two minutes to midnight

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