Rising tension between Russia and the United States, continuing tensions between Pakistan and India, and North Korea's recent nuclear test were among the developments that prompted prominent scientists on January 26 to warn that a global nuclear cataclysm could still occur.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the minute hand on its “Doomsday Clock” remains at three minutes-to-midnight, reflecting how vulnerable the world remains to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies. Midnight symbolizes a potential apocalypse.
The scientists behind the clock, including Nobel laureates and distinguished academics from around the world, acknowledged that last year’s Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate-change accord have the potential to help defuse global threats, but said their effectiveness has not yet been proven.
The closest the clock has come to midnight was two minutes away in 1953, when the Soviet Union tested a hydrogen bomb that followed a U.S. hydrogen bomb test.
Speaking at the Stanford University unveiling of the clock, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry raised concerns about rhetoric from Russia about the use of nuclear weapons and said the threat of nuclear disaster was greater today than during the Cold War.
Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz said the United States needs to engage Russia and China to prevent tensions from escalating toward catastrophe.