WASHINGTON, D.C. — Moments ago, the nonpartisan Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its iconic Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest to disaster it has ever been in its 73-year history. The dramatic move is 20 seconds closer to doomsday and signals that the world faces an unprecedentedly high risk of global existential catastrophe. The clock is now closer to midnight than it was in the worst days of the Cold War, and has moved steadily closer to midnight over the past several years.
In response to the announcement, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“The Bulletin has done the world a critical service by sounding the alarm against this unprecedented level of existential risk. The abdication of global leadership by the United States and our collective failure to take action in the face of mounting dangers has brought us to the brink. At just 100 seconds to midnight, the Doomsday Clock makes clear we are nearly out of time.
“The Global Zero movement agrees with the Bulletin that the world is lurching toward disaster and it is imperative we change our course. During the Trump presidency, the Doomsday Clock has moved steadily closer to midnight, due to U.S. negligence and malfeasance, and the failure of global leadership to address twin existential crises of climate change and nuclear weapons.
“It should alarm everyone that global nuclear dangers are rapidly worsening. The United States and Russia are removing old guardrails and hard-won diplomatic achievements that contained their nuclear competition during the Cold War, without replacing them with new rules of the road. With the INF Treaty now abandoned, New START is the sole remaining restraint on the two nations that together hold more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weaponry — and it expires in just over a year. Russia has offered to extend New START immediately and without preconditions, but the Trump administration has failed to accept these favorable terms. This inaction invites nuclear anarchy, increases the risk of nuclear use, and has pushed the Clock closer to midnight.
“North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are expanding and American diplomacy to cap and reverse their program is on hold indefinitely. South Asia remains a nuclear tinderbox and the prospects for mediation and engagement are diminishing. And the most avoidable danger of all stems from deliberate moves by the United States to destroy the nuclear deal with Iran, and aggressively escalate conflict between Iran and the United States. War and wider nuclear proliferation in the region are increasingly likely as a result.
“These problems are caused by human behavior, which means humans can solve them. But we must not wait for the Clock to strike midnight before we act.
“The only lasting solution to eliminating the threat posed by nuclear weapons is total and verified elimination, backed by permanent inspection and enforcement. With just 100 seconds to midnight, we need to focus now on emergency steps we can take to reduce imminent risks and buy precious time to tackle long-term challenges. Preserving the last remaining nuclear treaty between the United States and Russia is an immediate starting point that can happen overnight. So is reforming U.S. nuclear policy around a binding commitment to No First Use — legislation that has already been put forward by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith and is gaining support among members of Congress. From there, we will have a solid foundation to pursue more ambitious and far-reaching agreements to reduce the number of these weapons and their role in global affairs.
“If there’s one key takeaway from today’s announcement, it’s this: We are closer than any generation since 1945 to witnessing the next use of nuclear weapons. It’s not too late to prevent this self-inflicted doom, if we find the conviction and resolve to act. The Clock is ticking.”