Bulletin Science and Security Board condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine; Doomsday Clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight

Suzet McKinney, member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board (SASB), and Daniel Holz, 2022 co-chair of the Bulletin's SASB, reveal the 2022 time on the Doomsday Clock. Photo by Thomas Gaulkin/Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In January 2022 the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight. At that time, we called out Ukraine as a potential flashpoint in an increasingly tense international security landscape. For many years, we and others have warned that the most likely way nuclear weapons might be used is through an unwanted or unintended escalation from a conventional conflict. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought this nightmare scenario to life, with Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to elevate nuclear alert levels and even first use of nuclear weapons if NATO steps in to help Ukraine. This is what 100 seconds to midnight looks like.

The Science and Security Board condemns the illegal and dangerous invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We call on all countries to denounce Russia’s actions and Putin’s outrageous threats of nuclear use, and for Russia to withdraw its forces and live up to its 1994 pledge—made as part of the successful process of ensuring Ukraine did not gain control over the 1,900 nuclear weapons left on its territory when the Soviet Union dissolved—to fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Anything less is an affront to the rule of law and the principle of national self-determination. Anything less risks global catastrophe.

In the commentaries and analyses below, Bulletin Science and Security Board members bring their expertise to bear on aspects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that they find especially concerning or insufficiently explained elsewhere. The goal, as always and especially in these fraught times, is to minimize the threat of global apocalypse in the short run, and then make it ever less likely to occur over time.

Daniel Holz

Mastermind or madman? Putin shows why the world needs new nuclear agreements

Regardless of Putin’s mental state, the invasion of Ukraine has made one thing clear: As soon as hostilities end, Western leaders need to engage with Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to craft agreements on arms control and nuclear command and control practices that greatly reduce the possibility that any one person can take actions that put the whole of human civilization at risk.  

A biological weapons threat to Ukraine is a biological weapons threat to the world

Russia happens to be the first country in decades whose threatened use of biological weapons has captured our attention. It is unlikely to be the last.
Herbert Lin

Responding to a Russian demonstration of nuclear muscle-flexing

Russia could explode a nuclear weapon over the open ocean, where it wouldn't kill people but might influence Western nations to pressure Ukraine to give up its resistance to Russian forces. If Putin did undertake a nuclear demonstration what should the United States and the NATO allies do? 
Rodney C. Ewing

Nuclear reactors in a war zone: A new type of weapon?

Despite international agreements to exclude nuclear power plants from war zones, Russia has recklessly attacked these facilities. Although nuclear power plants are designed to operate safely, in a war zone there are no guarantees. Nuclear power plants have become a new instrument for making war and laying waste to the land.
Sharon Squassoni

Rethinking the unthinkable: Ukraine reveals the need for nuclear disarmament

However the Russian invasion of Ukraine ends, the way the world thinks about nuclear weapons will have to change.
Robert Socolow

Global collapse is in view

In light of Putin's decision to make nuclear weapons look usable, it has become all too clear that the global scientific community must reinvent the informal, cooperative, scientist-to-scientist relationships that once were so valuable. Not just Russia’s scientists, but China’s too must participate.


As the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows, nuclear threats are real, present, and dangerous

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John Conway
John Conway
2 months ago

I am a physicist. A high energy particle experimental physicist. I’ve worked at Fermilab and CERN, and had an office once at the U of C looking out on the Moore sculpture. I have followed the BAS for years, and The Clock. What on earth are you thinking? 100 seconds? Are you kidding? We are in the midst of the greatest post-WW II invasion, and the only reason we are not directly supporting Ukraine is the threat of global nuclear annihilation. The ONLY reason. There is a man in control of Russia who will NOT stop, even after destroying Ukraine,… Read more »

B
B
2 months ago
Reply to  John Conway

Just a regular person who has been following the clock for decades. Came here today knowing they were going to look at the time setting again this week. No change?! We’re as safe as we were in Jan? I don’t think so. Even if they are being political and don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ by changing the Clock to 2 seconds to midnight; it should have changed to reflect the new danger that happened when Russia (a ☢️ power) invaded a sovereign country in Europe. Ultimately, the Clock shouldn’t be political.

Stephen Shenfield
2 months ago
Reply to  B

The latest step toward midnight is Putin’s warning that Russia may target arms deliveries on the way to Ukraine, presumably even while they are still on the territory of a NATO member state. That would generate a direct military clash between NATO and Russia. The nuclear forces of both sides would then be on a hair-trigger… Ten seconds to midnight?

Adam Kuklych
Adam Kuklych
28 days ago
Reply to  John Conway

I have to agree with most of the comments on here. I do have Ukrainian heritage but what I write is purely my own thoughts, and are not influenced by either side in this conflict. It is influenced by solid factual evidence, the many videos showing places such as Mariupol, Russian soldiers, and even observing Russian citizens in Russia. But I can say this. Putin knows no bounds, nor are all of his desires fully revealed by the Kremlin. The more the West corner him, the more he is likely to lash out, and let’s not be fooled by all… Read more »

KONSTANTINOS ALVERTOS
KONSTANTINOS ALVERTOS
2 months ago

I have to agree with the rest of the people here. I cannot accept that our security level from 2020 and 2021 is on the same level as March 2022. War IS happening and the threat of nuclear destruction is imminent.

Ivan Bern
Ivan Bern
2 months ago

On The Beach by Nevil Shute
See you in Australia before the radiation gets there…
He who ignores the mistakes of the past is condemned to repeat them…Santayana

Satyr Icon
Satyr Icon
2 months ago

I’m going to go against the above commenters and say if Russia planned on using Nukes, he would’ve brought them closer. Or had them in more recent training exercises. I think Putin knows if he even reaches his fingers on the nuke trigger his nation is going to get pounded. Added to that he may also lose support of China and the other Eastern Bloc nations. No, I think Nukes are old hat, and are likely to rot in their place or disassembled over time. I fear the modern weapons of chemical and bio weapons are more insidious, and more… Read more »

Seriously Though!
Seriously Though!
1 month ago
Reply to  Satyr Icon

You may believe nuclear weapons aren’t part of the equation in this, however you’re overlooking the newer, smaller and more tactical nuclear weapons that have been developed. These aren’t covered by any of the treaties signed by anyone regarding use of nuclear weapons. Putin has never been secretive about his desire to reunify the USSR. He pretty much walked right into Crimea without so much as a whimper from the world. His invasion of Ukraine didn’t go as easily as he thought. Make no mistake though, he’s already put his nuclear abilities on high alert in Belarus and Russia and… Read more »

Hans Uhrmacher
Hans Uhrmacher
2 months ago

Uh oh. I think your clock might be broken. Maybe it’s time to exchange the batteries.
Really, it should have ticked at least a couple seconds forwards in last few weeks.

Debra Taylor
Debra Taylor
2 months ago

Not sure if it’s political or a desire to avoid alarming the masses, but I sure would love to hear the rationale behind not moving the clock since we may well have just seen the start of the third world war.

Jack MacDonnell
Jack MacDonnell
2 months ago

I have to agree with the majority of commenters here, the Clock should regrettably advance. I’m remaining optimistic but there are warning signs everywhere that Putin is unstable. There is a real possibility that he instructs his Air Force to arm a Hypersonic missile with a nuclear warhead and enter Kiev into its GPS coordinates. More dust needs to be kicked up now before we have a clearer resolve.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago

100 seconds is still a scary number. I would speculate that if they move the clock ahead that might instigate a bigger anxiety attack for the public than we are already having which could lead to a nuclear event. I actually think it’s smart to leave it where it is. Those of us on this site already know the danger we may be in and that Putin appears unstable, but NATO has rules about taking out world leaders.

To Pa
To Pa
2 months ago

NATO is a nuclear power that is encroaching on Russia. Over the decades, NATO’s military operations have wreaked havoc on infrastructure, combatants, and civilians (e.g. in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan…). To assume that NATO is not part of the problem is a mistake.

Lar
Lar
1 month ago
Reply to  To Pa

Nato is absolutely necessary in allowing many countries in eastern europe to not live under a dictator disrespectful of human rights like Putin is. You would like to live under Putin rule where journalists and critics are assassinated? No? Then Nato expansion is a necessary existential right of people leaving in many countries. Nato and Russia are not similar in how they treat their “zones of influence”

Seriously Though!
Seriously Though!
1 month ago
Reply to  To Pa

To assume that Vladimir Putin has no agenda of being the aggressor, taking over more countries and then even more is a foolhardy position. After all, his rise to power came with the second war with Chechnya. He rose quickly to power and has been in charge of Russia for 22 years. His goal was always to reunify the USSR and then gain more territory. The issue is the utilization of nuclear weapons. Will Putin use them or not? It’s quite possible..He’s a man isolated and not getting his way. This makes him all the more dangerous in his decision… Read more »

Luke
Luke
1 month ago
Reply to  To Pa

I agree that the West is not blameless but let’s assume NATO never existed or that it was disbanded after 1989-91. Do you honestly think Russia would not have tried to subjugate a westernising Ukraine (or Belarus) if it didn’t submit to its will “peacefully”? Russia doesn’t need NATO to justify its imperial attitude towards neighboring states. Focusing on blaming the war on NATO means negating the will of post-soviet states’ peoples to exist as sovereign nations.

Jon Osterman
Jon Osterman
21 days ago

This is why the famous quote will always ring true: A symbolic clock face is as nourishing to the intellect as a photo of oxygen is to a drowning man.

What’s the point of having the clock if you don’t take it seriously?