- CHICAGO (Reuters) - The keepers of the ``Doomsday Clock'' advanced its
hands five minutes closer to the midnight hour symbolizing nuclear catastrophe
Thursday, citing weapons tests by India and Pakistan and the failure of
the world community to control the spread of weapons.
- The board of directors of the Bulletin
of the Atomic Scientists reset the hands at nine minutes to midnight, from
14 minutes previously. The clock has appeared on the cover of the magazine
since it began publishing in 1947, at which time the minute hand was seven
minutes to midnight.
- The closest the hands have ever come
to the hour of nuclear holocaust was in 1953, when the United States tested
the first hydrogen bomb. The hands were at two minutes to midnight that
year. ``The movement of the minute hand follows the unfortunate May tests
of nuclear devices by India and Pakistan,'' the publication said.
- ``The consequences of a possible nuclear
exchange between India and Pakistan are unforeseeable. But if barriers
to the use of nuclear weapons ever fail, the physical, economic and psychological
security of every person on the planet will be threatened,'' it added.
- The change also dramatizes ``the failure
of world diplomacy in the nuclear sphere'' and the fact that deep reductions
in the number of stockpiled nuclear weapons, which seemed likely eight
years ago, have not occurred, it said. The magazine was founded by scientists
who worked on World War II atomic bomb projects and who were concerned
about the threats that the nuclear age posed to humanity. In 1991 the hands
were pushed away from midnight, to the 17 minute mark, because the nuclear
war threat posed by the Cold War had ended.