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Humanity Is One Minute from Midnight

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it may be necessary to move the Doomsday Clock forward to just one minute to midnight. The world needs a new global security architecture to constrain nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, killer pathogens, and the mounting military capability of artificial intelligence.

AMMAN – Every year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – founded by Albert Einstein and scientists from the Manhattan Project who helped develop the atomic weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki – has set the Doomsday Clock. The clock uses “the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero)” to indicate humanity’s vulnerability to man-made disasters. In January 2022, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board set the clock for the third consecutive year at 100 seconds to midnight, marking the closest humanity has come to extinction in the last 75 years.

Barely a month after that gloomy prognosis, Russia launched a wide-ranging “special military operation” against Ukraine. Worse still, Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly afterward ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, and threatened to use this arsenal should the West attempt to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

Given such incendiary rhetoric, the apparent erosion of collective mechanisms to manage conflict and global security risks, and the fact that nine countries possess a total of 13,100 nuclear weapons, it may now be necessary to reset the Doomsday Clock once again. This time, it should move forward to just one minute to midnight.