- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Humanity is now closer than ever to armageddon as the Doomsday Clock was set Tuesday to 90 seconds to midnight.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which reevaluates the clock each year, made note of several important geopolitical issues but said the move to 90 seconds was largely due to the war in Ukraine.

Due to the clock only being reevaluated in January of each year, the war in Ukraine, which broke out in February, was not factored in until this month.

The announcement focused heavily on the war, with scientists calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin for “dangerous” nuclear saber-rattling.

“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 announcement reads.

A large portion of the announcement discussed other countries’ carelessness with nuclear arms, citing buildups by countries like China, North Korea, Iran and India as contributing to the increased risk of nuclear war.

The United States did not escape criticism on this front either.

“The United States, Russia, and China are now pursuing full-fledged nuclear weapons modernization programs, setting the table for a dangerous new ‘third nuclear age’ of competition.”

The last nuclear treaty between the U.S. and Russia, named “New START,” will expire in 2026. Experts say that the expiration of the treaty would deepen mistrust between the holders of the two largest nuclear arsenals.

The report also spent a significant amount of time on the issues of climate change, biological threats like COVID-19, and disinformation/ disruptive technology.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by many of the scientists who helped develop the first nuclear weapons for the U.S. and has continually tracked humanity’s proximity to extinction ever since.

Even during the Cold War, when the world’s nuclear arsenals were many times larger than they are now, the Doomsday Clock never got closer than two minutes to midnight, where it stood in 1953.

During 1952, the Korean War raged on, the U.S. tested the first hydrogen bomb, and the nuclear club expanded to three, with Britain testing its first indigenous atomic bomb.

• Vaughn Cockayne can be reached at vcockayne@washingtontimes.com.

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