Moments ago, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that its iconic Doomsday Clock will remain at 2 minutes to midnight. In doing so, they reinforced the growing concern that this new nuclear “abnormal” is an unstable and dangerous status quo that must be urgently addressed.
In reaction to the announcement, Derek Johnson, the executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“The Clock holding at two minutes to midnight is not good news. No one should take comfort in the fact that we’re still facing the highest risk of global catastrophe since 1953, the height of the Cold War. That we remain so close to disaster is proof our governments are failing us.
“2018 saw continued moves by the United States, Russia and other countries to accelerate a nuclear arms race, to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, and to undermine the predictability and transparency gained through mutually supporting agreements, treaties and codes of conduct.
“If the world seems less dangerous than it did a year ago, it’s because we’re becoming numb to the chaos and instability underpinning the nuclear balance of terror. We can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand.
“That North Korea and the United States have stepped back from the brink of war is welcome, but that easing of tension has been offset by a parade of bad news: The Trump administration’s violation of the Iran nuclear deal and continued efforts to sabotage its success threaten to reignite a nuclear crisis in the Middle East. Talks with North Korea led to promises of denuclearization, yet Pyongyang’s arsenal continues to advance. Restraints on U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals are dissolving, with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on the brink of collapse and New START possibly next on the chopping block. We’re staring into the abyss.
“There is no such thing as an acceptable level of existential risk. Whether it’s two minutes to midnight, five minutes, or ten — it’s all too close to global catastrophe. Today’s announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists underscores the urgent need to focus on bold solutions that do more than lessen the potential for nuclear conflict, but take these risks to the only level we can accept: zero. The only way to do that is to eliminate these weapons entirely.
“We have, in our power, the ability to put the Clock out of commission altogether, but as the Bulletin makes clear we are running out of time. To begin moving quickly in that direction, the U.S. and Russia must join common cause to save the INF Treaty, extend New START without conditions, and forswear a nuclear arms race that cannot be ‘won.’ Meanwhile all nuclear-armed states must reinforce the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons, reduce the opportunities for conflicts and crises to spin out of control and go nuclear, and pursue real and significant reductions in nuclear weapons. As a top priority, all nuclear-armed nations should commit to never to use nuclear weapons first in any conflict, a step that would put the world on far more stable footing and open the path to deep reductions and ultimately the total eradication of these arsenals globally.”