Doomsday Clock Ticking Ahead Due to US Nuke Plan

Doomsday Clock Ticking Ahead Due to US Nuke Plan  Doomsday Clock Ticking Ahead Due to US Nuke Plan

Humanity is now as close to the apocalypse as it was during the Cold War era thanks to the United States' new nuclear strategy, says Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. 

He made the comments on Saturday, a day after the Pentagon released a document known as the Nuclear Posture Review, outlining plans to expand US nuclear capabilities largely in response to a perceived threat from Russia. Moscow has denied accusations made against it in the policy document.

"The US Nuclear Posture Review reflects greater reliance on nukes in violation of the #NPT, bringing humankind closer to annihilation," Zarif wrote on Twitter, pointing to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

"No wonder the Doomsday Clock is at its most dangerous since 1953," he added, in an apparent reference to a recent decision by a team of scientists to move the Doomsday Clock forward.


***Symbolic Clock 

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which has been moving the hands of the Doomsday Clock back and forth for 70 years, recently pushed them forward by 30 seconds, the Sunday Times reported. 

The decision was prompted by "the failure of [US] President [Donald] Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change," said Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the bulletin's board of sponsors.

The setting is the closest the symbolic clock has come to midnight since 1953, when scientists moved it to two minutes from midnight after seeing both the US and the Soviet Union test hydrogen bombs, according to NPR. 

***Same Impulse 

Zarif said the same rationale as used in the new nuclear policy is behind Washington's efforts to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump has rejected and wants to renegotiate. 

"Trump's obduracy in killing the #JCPOA stems from the same dangerous imprudence," he wrote, referring to the accord, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

US officials argue that the reason for building up new nuclear capabilities is that Russia currently perceives the United States' nuclear posture and capabilities as inadequate, according to Reuters.

The Pentagon document, which is largely in line with the previous review in 2010, said the US will modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads with low-yield options.

In the long term, the US military will also develop a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile. 

Low-yield nuclear weapons, while still devastating, have the strength of less than 20 kilotons. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had about the same explosive power.

The argument for these weapons is that larger nuclear bombs are so catastrophic that they would never be used and do not work as an effective deterrent. With less power and destruction, the low-yield option would potentially be more likely to be used, serving as an effective deterrent.


***Brazen Threat

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday criticized the Pentagon's plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal, a move some critics say could increase the risk of miscalculation between the US and Russia. 

"See how the Americans are today shamelessly threatening Russia with new atomic weapons," he said in a speech in Tehran, IRNA reported. 

"The same people who believe that use of weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity and they should be all eliminated talk about the development of new weapons to use against their rivals," the president added. 

Rouhani noted the current status quo requires that all countries enhance their defense capabilities and remain strong. 

However, he said Iran is not seeking to build weapons of mass destruction but rather wants to enhance its conventional military capabilities.  

"We have to be strong enough to dishearten the enemies. They should either get discouraged from attacking us or feel that they would pay a heavy price for it. So our national might is for peace, not war." 

The president added that Iran will never negotiate its defense programs aimed at deterring threats. 

The Trump administration has been trying to persuade the European nations that negotiated the Iran nuclear agreement to accept side deals under which they would join the US in reimposing sanctions if Iran continues ballistic missile testing. Iran says its missiles are for defensive purposes only. 

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