The members of the science and Security Board have moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward largely though not exclusively because of the mounting dangers in the war in Ukraine. The bulletin of the atomic scientists is releasing its 2023 statement, which will be available shortly at thebulletin.org, following the announcement of the time. We will hear from experts and world leaders about why the clock was set where it was and what can be done about it.
In 2020, when the clock was first set at 100 seconds to midnight, it was noted that the world had entered the realm of a two-minute warning, a period when danger is high and the margin for error is low. The move from minutes to seconds emphasizes our proximity to midnight. When the science and Security Board kept the clock at 100 seconds to midnight in January 2022, they called out Ukraine as a potential Flashpoint in an increasingly tense International Security environment. Without swift and focused action, truly catastrophic events were more likely.
Ukraine as a Flashpoint
In February 2022, weeks after the announcement, Russia invaded Ukraine. The bulletin issued a statement that condemned the illegal and dangerous invasion of Ukraine by Russia and called on all countries to denounce Russia’s actions and President Putin’s outrageous threats of nuclear use. 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 possibilities that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.
The war’s effects also undermine global efforts to combat climate change as countries dependent on Russian oil and gas have expanded investment in natural gas. Russia’s false accusations that Ukraine planned to use radiological dispersal devices, chemical weapons, and biological weapons take on a new meaning as well. The continuing stream of disinformation about bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine raises concerns that Russia itself may be thinking of deploying such weapons.
Call to Action
There is no clear path for forging a just peace that discourages future aggression under the shadow of nuclear threat. The US government, its NATO allies, and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue. We urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability. With this in mind, the statement is being released in English, Russian, and Ukrainian. It is the first time this has been done, and it is hoped that it garners the attention it deserves in the capitals most affected.
Today, the members of the science and Security Board move the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely though not exclusively because of the mounting dangers in the war in Ukraine. The clock is now 90 seconds to midnight, nuclear risks have increased significantly last year, largely due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear use in launching the invasion and warned that whoever tries to hinder Russia should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead to consequences never faced in history.