The Director of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Renata Dwan, warned that all states with nuclear weapons are pushing for weapon modernization programs, while arms control regulations are changing or fading.
This restructure of nuclear agreements is partly due to strategic competition between China and the U.S, and a new “arms race” between the North American nation and Russia. With disarmament talks stalemated for the past two decades, 122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, expect states with the weaponized material.
As a result, since 2018, the Doomsday Clock marks two-minutes till midnight, something not seen since 1947.
“I think that it’s genuinely a call to recognize – and this has been somewhat missing in the media coverage of the issues – that the risks of nuclear war are particularly high now,” the expert added.
The clock was created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947, who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project. The experts used the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.
To counteract, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons so far has gathered 23 of the 50 ratifications that it needs to come into force, including South Africa, Austria, Thailand, Vietnam, and Mexico. But It is strongly opposed by the U.S., Russia, and other states with nuclear arms.
A rather worrying stance by nuclear superpowers, as the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty, the only U.S.-Russia arms control pact limiting deployed strategic nuclear weapons, expires in February 2021. While China has stated it will not participate in negotiations on any trilateral nuclear disarmament agreement with the U.S. and Russia.
Due to the fact, the U.S. has recently withdrawn from both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned could lead to an “arms race” with likely worse consequences than the Cold War.
The decision to move or to leave in place the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates. The fact that it is closer to midnight than ever should be a warning to all.
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Featured image is from teleSUR