Doomsday clock moves, Russia nixes talks

doomsday clock

The Science & Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 24 moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, citing the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. The press release announcing the move spared no criticism for Russia, excoriating Moscow for breaking its commitment to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and violating international protocols by bringing its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants.

The statement also expressed alarm over Russia’s repeated implicit threats to unleash nuclear war. “[W]orst of all,” the statement read, “Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.”

The statement nonetheless called on the United States to “keep the door open to principled engagement with Moscow that reduces the dangerous increase in nuclear risk… The US government, its NATO allies, and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; they all should be explored. Finding a path to serious peace negotiations could go a long way toward reducing the risk of escalation. In this time of unprecedented global danger, concerted action is required, and every second counts.”

Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov responded to the statement by acknowledging that “the situation is really alarming,” but rejected any imminent return to the negotiating table. Citing last week’s decision by the US and Western allies to provide scores of tanks to Ukraine, he said: “Right now we can only state that the prospects for stepping on a diplomatic path are not visible at present.” (The Hill, AA, CNN)

The Doomsday Clock was last moved to 100 seconds to midnight in January 2020.

Image: BAS

  1. Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant threatened —again

    Early in the morning of March 9, Russia unleashed one of the largest bombardments of Ukraine in weeks, targeting energy infrastructure and striking residential buildings across the country. Forty percent of people in the capital Kyiv were without heating following the attack, and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was forced to rely on back-up diesel generators, prompting a warning from the UN. (TNH)

  2. Power cut to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant —again

    The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine lost all external power for several hours on May 22, highlighting the urgent need to protect the facility and prevent an accident, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement. This marked the seventh time that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant had been completely disconnected from the national electricity grid since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion 15 months ago, the agency said, noting that the facility was forced to run on emergency diesel generators once again. (UN News)

  3. Power cut to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant —again

    Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has lost connection to its last external power backup line, UN’s nuclear agency chief Rafael Grossi said on Feb. 21.

    The loss of the last power backup to keep the nuclear facility running is “once again underlining the fragile nuclear safety and security situation at the site,” the International Atomic Energy Agency director general said.

    He said IAEA officials present at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which sits in Russia-occupied territory, were informed that the 330 kilovolt (kV) power line was disconnected the previous day. 

    A team of experts present at the site were told the disconnection occurred “due to a problem which occurred on the other side of the Dnipro river, some 13.5km away from the 330 kV switchyard, which supplies back-up power to the site.” (The Independent)

  4. Drone strike on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

    Rafael Grossi, director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), condemned April 7 a drone strike on one of the six nuclear reactors at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine, warning against the risk of a major nuclear accident. Both Russian and Ukrainian officials denied responsibility for the strike and accused the other of carrying it out. (Jurist, CNN)