Doomsday Clock set to three minutes to midnight – PNND responds

Doomsday clock set to 3 minutes to midnight.
UN Open Ended Working Group to start first session.
Parliamentarians take action.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced yesterday that the Doomsday Clock is set at 3 Minutes to Midnight - the closest it has been to catastrophe since 1983 – at the height of the Cold War.

The Clock, established in 1947 to measure how close humanity is to destruction by nuclear war, has been adjusted only 21 times, ranging from two minutes before midnight in 1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991. In the past few years the threat of planetary destruction from climate change has been added to the nuclear threat to determine the position of the clock’s hands.

Board members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists were joined by California Governor Jerry Brown, former U.S, Secretary of State George Shultz, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry in making the announcement yesterday.

“While recognizing the important progress represented by the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, the Bulletin cautions that these positive steps have been offset in large part by foreboding developments. Even as the Iran agreement was hammered out, tensions between the United States and Russia rose to levels reminiscent of the worst periods of the Cold War…."

"Conflict in Ukraine and Syria continued, accompanied by dangerous bluster and brinkmanship, with Turkey, a NATO member, shooting down a Russian warplane involved in Syria, the director of a state-run Russian news agency making statements about turning the United States to radioactive ash, and NATO and Russia repositioning military assets and conducting significant exercises with them.”

On climate protection the Bulletin noted that “Promising though it may be, the Paris climate agreement came toward the end of Earth's warmest year on record, with the increase in global temperature over pre-industrial levels surpassing one degree Celsius.”

"The Doomsday Clock reminds us, as global citizens the urgent need to prevent, reduce and eventually rid the world of nuclear weapons" says PNND Co-president Paul Dewar (Canada).

Open Ended Working Group starts work

The announcement comes just two days before the first session of the UN Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament, which has been tasked to discuss legal measures to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, as well as interim measures to eliminate the risk of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional nuclear weapon detonations. It is expected that Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand will be appointed as chair of the OEWG.

“The existential threat nuclear weapons pose to the planet demands political will, diplomacy and action,” says PNND South East Asia Coordinator Matt Robson. “The Open Ended Working Group provides a place to resolve the issues preventing progress, and to set the path for nuclear abolition.”

Mr Robson was speaking from Thailand where he is meeting with foreign ministry officials and parliamentarians to discuss ways in which PNND can support the OEWG in its important work.

Parliamentarians, mayors and civil society promoting the OEWG

  • PNND member Paul Flynn MP (UK) has put a question in the UK House of Commons to the Foreign Office asking 'what proposal the Government plans to put in place to the second UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament.'
     
  • Mayors for Peace has sent an open letter to the OEWG urging all States - especially those possessing nuclear weapons and their umbrella states - to engage in constructive deliberations in the OEWG in order to pave the way for a nuclear-weapon-free world.
     
  • PNND, Mayors for Peace and Religions for Peace launched a Joint Statement of Legislators and Religious Leaders for a Nuclear Weapon Free World on August 6 last year, and are gathering further endorsements before presenting it to the OEWG to encourage constructive action by the participating governments. (Send endorsements to info@pnnd.org).
     
  • UNFOLD ZERO has launched a competition to find an effective campaign to support the OEWG. See UN OEWG - win a trip to Geneva.