Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: One minute before Armageddon. Doomsday clock is relentlessly counting time

Many have heard about the so-called “Doomsday clock”, which counts down the time to a planetary catastrophe, which is usually assumed to be a large-scale nuclear conflict.

I am going to tell you a little about this project. It was launched by an emigrant from Russia Yevgeny Rabinovich according to the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” at the University of Chicago in 1947. He was perhaps the first among his colleagues to realize the full horror of the use of atomic weapons, and even demanded that Roosevelt and Truman abandon the idea of nuclear bombing of Japan, but, as we now know, to no avail.

The fiery hell of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made many of Rabinovich’s colleagues — including those who created “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” as part of the Manhattan Project — join his views. In 1947, with the beginning of the Cold War between the two world centres of power - the United States and the USSR -, scientists conducted, as they say today, a “performance” that for the first time showed the dial with the hour hand set at midnight (the end of the world), and the minute hand showed seven minutes before midnight. Scientists and nuclear physicists who understood how nightmarish the bloody battle between two civilizations would be, demonstrated how close humanity approached Armageddon predicted by Bible.

During the past decades, some adjustments to this project have been made. For example, not only the level of danger of an armed conflict between nuclear powers, but also, for example, the level of environmental pollution is now taken into account. It is important that the team that determines the degree of Armageddon threat consists of the best minds, if not of all humankind then at least of the North America’s scientific community including a cohort of Nobel Prize winners. The project team has no fixed schedule of moving the hands of the Doomsday Clock. It can take a year or seven to move them. Over the past decades, the minute hand has moved only 24 times. The best time — when humanity noticeably moved away from the danger of total annihilation — was recorded in 1991, after the signing of the strategic arms reduction treaty between the USSR and the USA, which marked the end of the Cold War. On that day, scientists moved the hand 17 minutes from midnight.

But on 25 January 2018, the hand was moved again. Now, according to the calculations of scientists, only two minutes are left until the end of the world. The Doomsday Clock has already shown that time in 1953, when the United States, and soon the Soviet Union conducted thermonuclear weapons tests.

But today the minute hand can be moved even closer to midnight. And here is why.

Recently it became known that in October last year Russia proposed the United States to adopt a joint statement (not an agreement, just a memorandum) to prevent nuclear war and strengthen strategic stability. But there is still no response to this initiative.

Instead, the Donald Trump administration accused us of fomenting a new arms race and, on 2 February this year, suspended US participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty., The decision to similarly suspend Russia's participation in this treaty was made by President Putin in March.

I am not an expert in the field of rocket weapons. Therefore, I would not go into arguments – which at first glance are quite weighty – that lead both parties to substantiate their positions. But I am a Buddhist. And from my point of view, I cannot condone the actions of the United States, which, in my opinion, lead to the heightening of the danger of a global nuclear war.

In 1991, the then existing USSR proposed the United States to conclude a treaty on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles. As part of this agreement, our country managed to destroy 1846 missile systems but our overseas partners eliminated exactly one thousand less. Moreover, if the Soviet nuclear weapons were indeed destroyed without any possibility of recovery, the Americans carefully dismantled their Tomahawks and Pershings, and put them for long-term storage.

Soon the USSR fell under the Perestroika tempest and now the new Russia, completely democratic and capitalist, is putting forward a fresh initiative. In order to strengthen the safeguards against a nuclear conflict, our country in 1993 proposes to recycle Soviet warheads, disposed of as a result of the START-1 and START-2 treaties, into raw materials for US nuclear power plants, and the US gratefully accepts this proposal: the famous HEU-LEU agreement.

However, now the United States is the first to withdraw from the treaty, which somehow held back the flooding the Europe with weapons capable of completely burning down densely populated regions in a matter of hours. Obviously, Washington forgot the prediction of Albert Einstein that the fourth world war will be fought with stones and sticks.

At the same time, it is very difficult to understand what moves the American politicians. There are no more ideological contradictions between our countries. The spectre of communism has sunk into oblivion. Who are the Washington hawks afraid of? Or is it not fear that moves them, but the desire to reserve the right of the first — and it would be better unresponsive — strike?

Having headed the International Chess Federation in 1995, I almost immediately put forward the slogan: "one billion chess players - one billion smart people". I am deeply convinced that the more intelligent people there are in our world, the farther away from Armageddon will be our civilization. And the best way to develop the mind is playing chess.

Now I am becoming more and more convinced that the United States is in dire need of the development of the chess movement.

P.S. While I was preparing this text, I learnt that Trump was in favour of renouncing nuclear weapons. They wrote that Donald Trump called on all countries to get rid of nuclear weapons. And he made this statement pretty soon after the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. According to American media, Washington is preparing a draft agreement on nuclear arms control, which would involve the participation of Russia and China.

Will it still stop and freeze the Doomsday clock’s hand?