The world is 30 seconds closer to nuclear annihilation, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists who today moved the hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’ to 2.5 minutes to midnight.
Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist who chairs the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Board of Sponsors, noted that the Doomsday Clock, is an “indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change and new technologies.”
That vulnerability worsened since the last yearly update. “This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual…as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used by a president-elect of the United States in cavalier and often reckless ways to address the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate change,” said Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (Click here for the full statement).
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, UNFOLD ZERO, Green Cross International and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) hosted a consultation of arms control experts and disarmament activists on how to reduce nuclear risks and support nuclear disarmament.
The meeting, part of a series of consultations in Geneva, Vienna, New York, Washington, London and other centres, was opened with presentations by Paul Walker, Program Director of Green Cross International and Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator.
It focused on possibilities for progress provided by upcoming multilateral processes, including United Nations negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, the resumption of the Non-Proliferation Treaty review cycle and the 2018 UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.
Recent UN conferences on climate change, sustainable development goals and refugees have been very successful in building global agreement on these issues. However, the USA has already opposed the ban treaty negotiations, and will not be bound by the treaty if it does not join.
Building support from the USA for the UN High level Conference will be difficult, but might be possible with smart messaging and campaigning. One thing that might make a difference is whether or not the proposed US/Russia Summit goes ahead and if so, whether it produces a bilateral agreement on reducing nuclear risks and stockpiles.
The UNFOLD ZERO/PNND consultation was unable to reach any conclusions on the most effective strategies, given the uncertainties with the Trump administration. However, there were many ideas floated, and there was general support that multiple tracks of incremental and comprehensive measures, working cooperatively, provide the highest probability of success.