US Doomsday Clock Reset Toward Danger
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HANDS OF US'DOOMSDAY CLOCK' RESET TOWARD DANGER
Reuters / Planet Ark
USA: March 1, 2002
CHICAGO - The keepers of the "Doomsday Clock" this week advanced its hands
nearer to the midnight hour symbolizing nuclear weapons conflict, its
closest since the Cold War's end, citing worries over lagging disarmament
efforts, the security of existing stockpiles and terrorism.
The directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a magazine that has
campaigned for nuclear disarmament since 1947, pushed the hands forward by
two minutes, to seven minutes to midnight.
It is the closest to midnight that the clock has been positioned since the
end of the Cold War, but not as close as the record danger position - two
minutes to midnight - in 1953 when the United States tested the first
"Despite a campaign promise to rethink nuclear policy, the Bush
administration has taken no significant steps to alter nuclear targeting
policies or reduce the alert status of U.S. nuclear forces," said George
Lopez, chairman of the Bulletin's Board of Directors.
"Meanwhile, domestic weapons laboratories continue working to refine
existing warheads and design new weapons, with an emphasis on the ability to
destroy deeply buried targets," he said.
Lopez said the directors also were "deeply concerned that the international
community appears to have ignored the wake-up call of Sept. 11. Terrorist
efforts to acquire and use nuclear and biological weapons present a grave
danger. But the U.S. preference for the use of preemptive force rather than
diplomacy could be equally dangerous."
The announcement cited what it said was a continuing U.S. preference for
unilateral rather than cooperative action, and its efforts to impede
international agreements designed to limit the proliferation of nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons.
It criticized U.S. plans to walk away from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty
in June, and its refusal to participate in talks regarding implementation of
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
It also cited a general lack of progress on nuclear disarmament, growing
concern about the security of nuclear weapons materials worldwide, and the
crisis between nuclear-capable neighbors India and Pakistan. It said more
than 31,000 nuclear weapons still are maintained by the eight known nuclear
powers, a decrease of only 3,000 since 1998.
The new seven-minute mark is the same position at which the clock was set
when it began appearing on the cover of the magazine in 1947. In addition to
the magazine cover, the publication keeps an actual clock at its offices,
and it repositioned those hands this week.
The hands last were moved in June 1998, from 14 minutes to nine minutes to
midnight. The clock has been reset 16 times previously. After the collapse
of the Soviet Union, the minute hand was pushed back to 17 minutes to
midnight in 1991, completely out of the final 15-minute danger zone.
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