Nuclear Disarmament’s Midnight Hour

CANBERRA – Last month, the Doomsday Clock’s hands were moved a minute closer to midnight by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the respected global organization that for decades has tracked the risk of a nuclear-weapons catastrophe, whether caused by accident or design, state or terrorist, fission bomb or dirty radiological bomb.

Few around the world seemed to be listening. The story – as others like it since the end of the Cold War ­– came and went within a half-day’s news cycle. But the Scientists’ argument was sobering, and demands attention. Progress since 2007 – when the Clock’s hands were last set at five minutes to midnight – has stalled, and political leadership has gone missing on all of the critical issues: disarmament, non-proliferation, and key building blocks needed for both.