As “Doomsday Clock” moves closer to midnight, churches call for prohibition of nuclear weapons

For the past 75 years, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has announced how close it believes the world is to a nuclear attack. On 24 January, it has announced that we are only 90 seconds to midnight.

The scientists define this as the most dangerous moment in time since the Doomsday Clock was launched in 1947.

As churches call for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, this dangerous moment has come about because supporters of nuclear weapons— particularly the nine nuclear armed states—have refused to take the critical steps necessary to ban the development and possession of nuclear weapons, and move the world away from potential global catastrophe.

Recent threats made by Russia to use nuclear weapons, and the current programme of modernisation of nuclear weapons are increasing the world’s risk.

In Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey, the United States has begun to replace its nuclear weapons with more modern ones. It is replacing the B61-3, B61-4, and B61-7 thermonuclear bombs with the B61-12, which has become the main US and NATO air-launched nuclear weapon, and is set to arrive in these countries at any time in early 2023. In the UK, military infrastructure is being upgraded for nuclear weapons storage. These new bombs have 20 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima Bomb.

Since nuclear weapons were used over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in the following decades when weapons were tested – particularly in the Pacific region – the World Council of Churches (WCC) has spoken out against the existential threat to humanity that is posed by these weapons.

In 2021, nuclear weapons became comprehensively illegal under international law through the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2021. Only two years later, 92 countries have signed the treaty and 68 have ratified it.

“This resetting of the Doomsday Clock helps to visualize the escalating risks of nuclear conflict, after a long period in which this existential threat had been largely ignored but which in fact had never gone away,” said Peter Prove, WCC director for international affairs. “The salience of this threat is now glaringly evident to all.”

There are no hands in which such irreversibly catastrophic weapons of mass destruction can rightly be considered safe, added Prove. “The new normative principles established by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and continuous efforts for the total elimination of such weapons, provide the only proper moral and practical response to this threat,” he said.

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof.  Dr Jerry Pillay, states that we need “to heal, protect and care for the world and all creation, the production of Nuclear Weapons do the exact opposite. The WCC will continue to resist this impending nuclear threat.”

Follow the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

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