Doomsday Clock stays unchanged at three
minutes to midnight
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[January 27, 2016]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iran
nuclear deal and movement on climate change prompted the scientists who
maintain the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe,
to keep it unchanged on Tuesday at three minutes to midnight.
The Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists, is widely recognized as an indicator of the
world's vulnerability to catastrophe.
Positive developments in 2015 center on the international accord
that limited Iran's nuclear program, and the agreement among almost
200 countries in Paris on a process to reduce output of
climate-changing carbon dioxide, the Bulletin said in a statement.
The accords "are major diplomatic achievements, but they constitute
only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of
potential for catastrophe," the Bulletin said.
The Doomsday Clock's hands "are the closest they've been to
catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb
testing" in the 1950s.
Areas of concern include heightened tensions between the United
States and Russia, continued conflict in Ukraine and Syria, and
tensions over the South China Sea, it said.
Russian and American nuclear weapons modernization programs and
growing Chinese, Pakistani, Indian and North Korean atomic programs
are also worrisome.
Although the Paris agreement was a positive step, 2015 was the
earth's warmest year on record. The voluntary pledges made to limit
greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to halt drastic climate
change, the Bulletin said.
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The Bulletin is a periodical founded in 1945 by University of
Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in
the Manhattan Project.
The Doomsday Clock was moved to three minutes to midnight last year
from five minutes because of fears of a nuclear arms race and
It has been set as close as two minutes to midnight, in 1953 when
the United States tested a hydrogen bomb, and as far as 17 minutes
from midnight, in 1991 as the Cold War ended.
The Bulletinís Science and Security Board makes the decision on the
clock's hands yearly in consultation with its Board of Sponsors,
which includes 16 Nobel laureates.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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