Doomsday Clock - Time Changes

Time Changes

In 1947, during the Cold War, the clock was started at seven minutes to midnight and was subsequently advanced or rewound per the state of the world and nuclear war prospects. The clock's setting is decided by the directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is an adjunct to the essays in the bulletin on global affairs. The clock has not always been set and reset as quickly as events occur; the closest nuclear war threat, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, reached crisis, climax, and resolution before it could be set to reflect that possible doomsday.

Timeline of the Doomsday Clock
Year Mins Left Time Change Reason
1947 7 11:53pm The initial setting of the Doomsday Clock.
1949 3 11:57pm +4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, officially starting the nuclear arms race.
1953 2 11:58pm +1 The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. (This is the clock's closest approach to midnight since its inception.)
1960 7 11:53pm −5 In response to a perception of increased scientific cooperation and public understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons, as well political actions taken to avoid "massive retaliation." The United States and Soviet Union cooperate and avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Suez Crisis. Scientists from different countries help establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations between nations allied with both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact.
1963 12 11:48pm −5 The United States and Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing.
1968 7 11:53pm +5 Regional wars wage: Vietnam War intensifies, Six Day War occurs in 1967 and Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place. Worse yet, France and China, two nations which have not signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, acquire and test nuclear weapons (1960 (Gerboise Bleue nuclear test) and 1964 (596 nuclear test) respectively) to assert themselves as global players in the nuclear arms race.
1969 10 11:50pm −3 Every nation of the world, with the notable exceptions of India, Pakistan, and Israel, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
1972 12 11:48pm −2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
1974 9 11:51pm +3 India tests a nuclear device (Smiling Buddha), SALT II talks stall. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize MIRVs
1980 7 11:53pm +2 Unforeseeable end to deadlock in US-Soviet Union talks as Soviet-Afghan War proceeds. As a result of the war, the US Senate refuses to ratify SALT II agreement between both nations and President Jimmy Carter pulls the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow and considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war
1981 4 11:56pm +3 Soviet-Afghan War hardens the US nuclear posture. Ronald Reagan becomes president, scraps further arms control talks with the Soviet Union and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it.
1984 3 11:57pm +1 Further escalation of the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
1988 6 11:54pm −3 The U.S. and the Soviet Union sign treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces, relations improve.
1990 10 11:50pm −4 Fall of the Berlin Wall, dissolution of Iron Curtain sealing off Eastern Europe, Cold War nearing an end.
1991 17 11:43pm −7 United States and Soviet Union sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. (This is the clock's earliest setting since its inception.)
1995 14 11:46pm +3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels; concerns about post-Soviet nuclear proliferation of weapons and brainpower.
1998 9 11:51pm +5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons in a tit-for-tat show of aggression; the United States and Russia run into difficulties in further reducing stockpiles.
2002 7 11:53pm +2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament; United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its intentions to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; concerns about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack due to the amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials that are unsecured and unaccounted for worldwide.
2007 5 11:55pm +2 North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon, Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia. Some scientists, assessing the dangers posed to civilization, have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.
2010 6 11:54pm −1 Worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and limit effect of climate change. New START agreement is ratified by both the United States and Russia and more negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark results in the developing and industrialized countries agreeing to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
2012 5 11:55pm +1 Lack of global political action to address nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, nuclear power safety, and global climate change.

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