U.S. President Donald Trump’s “ill-considered” comments about expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal are among the reasons a group of nuclear scientists on Thursday moved their symbolic doomsday clock 30 seconds closer to midnight.
The scientists, who have been assessing global security for 70 years, said the global security landscape “darkened” last year for a number of reasons, but cited Trump’s statements in particular.
“The president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said.
Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and member of the bulletin’s board, said moving the clock to two-and-a-half minutes before midnight is historic.
“The clock has not been closer to midnight in 64 years,” he said at a news conference.
In addition they cited his “disturbing comments” about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons for their decision to move the clock and his questioning of climate change.
But the scientists also said the international community failed to “come effectively to grips” with both nuclear weapons and climate change last year.
Beyond the election of Trump the scientists listed a number of other reasons for their assessment, including strains in relations between the U.S. and Russia, which together possess more than 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and North Korea’s underground nuclear tests.
The doomsday clock first appeared 70 years ago as a graphic on the first cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine.
Over the decades the scientists have recognised climate change as an additional threat, and in their report said “it could change life on Earth as we know it”.