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A group of scientists and academics on Thursday set the “Doomsday Clock” to a position of 100 seconds to midnight, saying the world is “no safer than it was last year” from threats of nuclear war and the climate change.

“This decision does not suggest, in any way, that the international security situation has stabilized,” said the experts who advised the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine in adjusting the hands of the symbolic clock located at the University of Chicago.

The photo taken on January 23, 2020 shows the “Doomsday Clock”, set to a position of 100 seconds from midnight. (Photo courtesy of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)(Kyodo)

“To the contrary, the Clock remains the closest it has come to a civilization-ending apocalypse because the world remains caught in an extremely dangerous time,” they added in a statement.

The Doomsday Clock is a warning about how close humans may come to destroying the world with dangerous technologies, with midnight representing a global catastrophe like nuclear war or an irreversible climate crisis.

Experts said some positive developments have been seen in the US approach to dealing with global concerns following the departure of Donald Trump, known for his unpredictable and reclusive leadership style and provocative rhetoric during his presidency.

After President Joe Biden took office in January last year, the United States and Russia agreed to an extension of the last remaining treaty limiting their nuclear arsenals: the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The Biden administration is also working to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and rejoin the Paris climate accord, which the United States had left under Trump.

“A more moderate and predictable approach to leadership and control of one of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals marked a welcome change from the previous four years,” the experts said.

But they warned that US relations with Russia and China remain strained, with all three countries “engaged in a series of nuclear expansion and modernization efforts,” including the push to develop hypersonic missiles.

“If left unchecked, these efforts could usher in a dangerous new nuclear arms race,” the scholars said, while noting that North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions and potential failed attempts to revive the deal nuclear deal with Iran contribute to increasing the dangers.

Ukraine also remains a potential flashpoint, with Russia’s massive troop deployments along the Ukrainian border adding to daily tensions, they added.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists from the University of Chicago who helped develop the first atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project. The watch was created in 1947.

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