Media Release: Doomsday Clock Announcement Signifies Nuclear Threat is Greater Than Ever

Jan 25, 2023 | News

At 2am this morning (10am EST Tuesday January 24), The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight, surpassing its previous setting of 100 seconds to midnight. The new time indicates we are now at the most dangerous moment in history since the Doomsday Clock was launched in 1947—two years after the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

Today’s new setting of the global Doomsday Clock highlights the need for urgent action to reduce the growing threat of the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. 

The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic representation of our proximity to annihilation (midnight), is one of the most authoritative annual assessments of how humanity is tracking on the biggest issues: the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and global heating. 

Each January, the setting of the Clock provides informed and wise counsel to citizens and officials worldwide about our key challenges and where our collective priorities should lie. The time is set with expertise from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Board of Sponsors, which includes ten Nobel laureates.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists attribute their decision to move the clock forward largely because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. They state: “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.” They note that Russia’s war on Ukraine has put in jeopardy the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States—New START—and undermined global efforts to combat climate change. Continued expansion and modernisation of nuclear arsenals in other nuclear-armed states exacerbates the danger.

Instead of forging ahead with the $170bn AUKUS nuclear submarines deal and allowing US nuclear-capable B-52 aircrafts to be stationed on our soil, Australia should act to halt the existential threats posed by global heating and potential nuclear catastrophe. The best way forward on nuclear weapons is to sign, ratify and implement the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), as we have joined every other treaty banning indiscriminate, inhumane weapons. 

The Australian Government has committed to “redouble our efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons” and Labor made a pre-election commitment to sign and ratify the TPNW in government. While Australia attended the first Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW and ended its opposition to the treaty at the UN First Committee, a decision to sign is pending. 

Dr. Tilman Ruff AO, board member of ICAN Australia and public health and infectious diseases physician, says “With the brutal and illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine under cover of nuclear threat, and nuclear disarmament stalled, the danger of nuclear war is as great now as it has ever been. Our security requires all governments to join the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty and act to finally eliminate these doomsday weapons.”

Dr Ruff said “With only 90 seconds to midnight, people all over the world must join the efforts to turn back the clock, there is no time to waste.”