A group of atomic scientists on Tuesday moved the hands of the "Doomsday Clock" to 90 seconds to midnight -- the closest ever for the symbolic estimate of human proximity to self-caused annihilation -- citing growing dangers from the ongoing war waged by Russia in Ukraine.
The clock, created in 1947 and maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, was at a position of 100 seconds to midnight for the third year until 2022.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of nuclear weapons use, raised the specter of biological and chemical weapons use, hamstrung the world's response to climate change, and hampered international efforts to deal with other global concerns," the scientists said in a statement.
The experts advising the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists journal said Russia's invasion of Ukraine has violated international norms and could embolden others to follow suit, leading to additional challenges to existing understandings and further threats to stability.
With the latest adjustment of the clock, they provided information for the first time in the Russian and Ukrainian languages.
Besides the war, they said China's fast-paced expansion of its nuclear capabilities is "particularly troubling" and urged that other threats such as North Korea's return to frequent missile-testing and Iran's increased uranium enrichment capacity be taken seriously.
"We really do need creative and bold leadership -- ethical, moral, political leadership," Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the bulletin, said in Washington upon announcing the new time. "There really is no time to waste."
The clock at the University of Chicago was also moved forward because of continuing dangers posed by climate change and diseases such as COVID-19, as well as dysfunction seen in international institutions and rules, they added.
The bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists at the university who helped develop the first atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project.
The clock, originally set at seven minutes to midnight, which represents Armageddon, went as far away as 17 minutes in 1991 after the end of the Cold War. But the time has been measured in seconds rather than minutes over the past few years, mirroring the urgency of the moment.