For the third year in a running, the leaders of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated in January that the world was on “dooms doorstep.” The organization said that the Doomsday Clock was at 100 seconds to midnight, which is the closest that the planet has ever been to the brink of death since the clock was first built in 1947.
On the other hand, it was more than eight months ago, back before Russia invaded Ukraine and before North Korea began its most recent aggressive series of ballistic missile tests. Six of these types of launches have been carried out by North Korea during the previous two weeks.
“As far as the Doomsday Clock goes, it is not something that reacts to every dangerous incident or even a positive incident that happens,” Sharon Squassoni, the co-chair of the bulletin’s Science and Security Board said to Yahoo News. “It’s not just all nuclear. But certainly, there have been some really worrying developments in the last year, and most of them have to do with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
On Tuesday, one of the intermediate-range ballistic missiles that had been fired by North Korea sailed over northern Japan. This caused considerable concern among locals, who awakened to the sound of warning sirens and communications.
The United States decided to summon a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in response to the launch of a similar missile over Japan for the first time in five years.
As a reaction, the United States and South Korea conducted joint military training in the area. During one of the live-fire scenarios, a South Korean ballistic missile had a failure for unknown reasons. The military of South Korea issued an apology the next day.
The authorities in Seoul have said that the Hyunmoo-2 missile did in fact have a warhead, but that it did not detonate when it fell. Additionally, they verified that there were no casualties.
Pyongyang launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday as a form of retribution for what it sees as the United States’ “escalating the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.” It occurred barely one month after North Korea enacted a law proclaiming itself a nuclear weapons state, a move that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un termed a “irreversible” step forward in the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
But Squassoni said, “Clearly the North Koreans are upset about the resumption of exercises by the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, but that is not in the same category as what is happening with Russia and Ukraine.”
In the meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, issued fresh warnings about nuclear weapons last week. In a message that he sent out over Telegram, he said that Western nations would not help even in the event that “Russia is forced to use the most fearsome weapon against the Ukrainian regime.”
The Russian Federation has the most extensive nuclear arsenal in the world, which consists of both modern hypersonic missiles and more manageable tactical nuclear warheads. Another supporter of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, has said that Russia should think about using a nuclear bomb with a low yield in Ukraine.
“I think it’s different than in the past, because Russia seems hellbent with some of the territories from Ukraine,” Squassoni told Yahoo News. “This is quite a strategic vision of Mr. Putin’s, however illegal it might be. But this is not like the war in Afghanistan or Syria. It’s not like any of those other conflicts of the last 20 years. And because of that, I think we have to be quite careful.”
The members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are scheduled to get together the next month in order to talk about the fallout from the events of the previous year.
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