Doomsday clock moves closer to nuclear Armageddon

  The Brigadier 19:08 17 Jan 2007

LONDON (AFP) - The world inched closer to nuclear Armageddon on Wednesday, according to a group of prominent scientists who moved a Doomsday Clock two minutes nearer to midnight -- the symbolic end of civilisation.

North Korea and Iran were cited as particular reasons increasing the danger of a nuclear winter, which had diminished since the end of the Cold War, they said.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has kept a Doomsday clock at the University of Chicago since 1947 as a reminder of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

In simultaneous events in London and Washington on Wednesday the clock's big hand was moved forward to five minutes to midnight -- from 11:53 p.m. where it had stood since 2002.

"We stand at the brink of a Second Nuclear Age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices," said the scientists in a statement.

"North Korea's recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia are symptomatic of a failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth."

First set at seven minutes to midnight -- a phrase that has become part of pop culture -- the clock has been moved 17 times in response to global events.

The most recent shift was in 2002 when it moved two minutes forward because the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and terrorists were known to be seeking nuclear and biological weapons.

Founded in 1945 by scientists who had helped develop the atomic bomb and were deeply concerned about the use of nuclear weapons, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists counts 17 Nobel laureates among its boards of directors and sponsors.

  anskyber 19:14 17 Jan 2007's rather like the 1984 lot, very distressing when such symbolism falls over.

  rezeeg 19:23 17 Jan 2007

The Brigadier, according to the BBC report the 2 minutes added is due to global warming.

"Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilisation have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.

As a result, the group has moved the minute hand on its famous "Doomsday Clock" two minutes closer to midnight."

  The Brigadier 19:27 17 Jan 2007

Private Fraser comes to mind over this.

  josie mayhem 19:31 17 Jan 2007

And being the cynic that I can be!

How many of these scientists are looking for new research grants?

  Weskit 10:24 18 Jan 2007

Or Corporal Jones...

  ed-0 10:38 18 Jan 2007

nail + head ;-)

  microcoder 10:38 18 Jan 2007

I think that that is all western politics.

It is obvious that polonium-210 and similar elements is the way ahead.

A few aerosols released into airports and city centres including public transport and junk food restaurants is more likely to be the future.

'Pass it on'!

  johndrew 14:11 18 Jan 2007

Provided it does not approach the 1962 (Cuba) time again we are likely to be around for a bit longer. Fortunately, as far as I`m aware, neither Iran nor North Korea have a great number of allies in the vicinity of the USA.

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