Hands Of Nuclear Doomsday
Clock Make Big Advance
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.

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