Moving the Doomsday Clock forward in 1984: Three minutes to midnight

By A Bulletin editorial | July 27, 2023

This is a section of the cover of a 1984 Bulletin magazine cover that reads "This is a time when things must be done before their time." The issue focused on the Doomsday Clock moving forward from four minutes to three minutes to midnight.The design of the cover of the January 1984 issue of the Bulletin.

This is a 1984 statement written by the Bulletin’s editorial board that details why the Doomsday Clock moved forward from four minutes to three minutes. The board cited the accelerating nuclear arms race and the almost complete breakdown of communication between world superpowers, noting that “The odds may be long: But it is our deepest conviction, as scientists and citizens, that there is no other way.”

This article appears here as part of our 2023 summer archive dive, which resurfaces a timeless Bulletin article each week. 


As we enter the new year, hope is eclipsed by foreboding. The accelerating nuclear arms race and the almost complete breakdown of communication between the superpowers have combined to create a situation of extreme and immediate danger.

In response to these trends and as a warning of where they lead, we have moved the Bulletin’s “doomsday clock” forward by one minute-to three minutes before midnight. It is a measure of the gravity of the current situation that only once in our 39-year history-in 1953 in response to the advent of the hydrogen bomb have we seen fit to place the warning hand any closer to midnight than it stands today.

Over the last decade, the clock has moved steadily for- ward, never back. We last advanced it three years ago in response to the development by the superpowers of nuclear weapons designed for war-fighting rather than war deterrence. Since then this trend has only accelerated, carrying us ever deeper into a new, more dangerous phase of the arms race. Captives of a tortured logic, the superpowers are pursuing security by means of weapons and strategies that can only produce insecurity. In so doing they are collaborating in an assault upon the basis of the only true security to be had at this point in history: mutual deterrence grounded on the knowledge that to wage nuclear war is to commit national suicide …

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