Moments ago, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its iconic Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight, signaling the increased likelihood of a global existential catastrophe. The Clock now stands at two minutes to midnight, meeting the previous high-water mark set in 1953, the year after the United States and the Soviet Union first tested thermonuclear weapons.
In response to the announcement, Derek Johnson, the executive director Global Zero, the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Twelve months into the Trump administration, the outlook for the planet has gone from bad to worse. Today’s Doomsday Clock announcement must serve as an urgent wake-up call — and could be the last one we get.
“Last year, the Clock ticked forward largely in response to candidate Trump’s alarming campaign rhetoric. But the reality of a nuclear-armed President Trump running loose in the world is worse than we feared, and that is clearly a central factor in this decision.
“The first year of the Trump administration saw a parade of nuclear-tinged crises steadily worsen. North Korea and the United States are on a collision course accelerated by schoolyard taunts, missile tests and threats of ‘fire and fury.’ NATO-Russia tensions are intensifying and now threaten vital nuclear arms control agreements, like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and New START. Arms-racing India and Pakistan are again clashing in Kashmir, with casualties mounting on boths sides. And another nuclear crisis may be reigniting in the Middle East as the White House actively works to undermine the Iran deal.
“Meanwhile, trillions of dollars are being sunk into building a whole new generation of civilization-ending weaponry, further cementing the role of these weapons in national security policies. Other nuclear-armed leaders are following in America and Russia’s footsteps by expanding their arsenals and gearing them toward first strike and rapid launch. Proverbial nuclear buttons sit on the desks of more authoritarian men than at any moment in history.
“On top of that, the recent leak of Trump’s radical new Nuclear Posture Review reveals just how far and fast the United States is backsliding toward nuclear warfighting. Trump’s plan to develop more kinds of nuclear weapons and loosen restrictions on their use will only pour gas on the fire.
“The world is in big trouble. We can buy ourselves some breathing room with any number of emergency measures currently circulating in Congress, like the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act; by starving Trump’s nuclear ambitions of the eye-popping funds they require; and by demanding diplomatic engagement with nuclear-armed adversaries, first and foremost the North Koreans.
“But there are only two ways this story ends: We either find the wisdom and courage to urgently reduce and ultimately eliminate these weapons, or the Clock strikes midnight in our lifetimes.
“We are running out of time to decide which future we live to see.”