'Doomsday clock' moves closer to midnight amid increased nuclear tensions

Scientists say "nuclear affairs took center stage in this year's discussions" on the symbolic clock

'Doomsday clock' moves closer to midnight amid increased nuclear tensions

Screenshot: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The world is closer to a nuclear apocalypse than it was last year, according to the 2018 position of the symbolic Doomsday Clock.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed the 2018 position as two minutes to midnight on Thursday.

Scientists made the call amid the growing tensions between the United States and North Korea. Both countries have been engaged in a war of words over Kim Jong Un's nuclear weapons programme.

The annual doomsday clock reading is intended to represent how close the world is to destruction - midnight representing the end of the world as we know it.

It follows last year's reading of two and a half minutes to midnight.

The hypothetical countdown introduced in 1947, which predicts the likelihood of a man-made global disaster, reached its peak at two minutes to midnight in 1953.

It was furthest away at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991.

Explaining the latest change, Robert Rosner - chair of Bulletin Science and Security - observed: "We're seeing that all the major weapon states are investing in their nuclear arsenals. North Korea's nuclear and missile tests demonstrate an accelerating and successful programme of building a new generation of massive weapons of mass destruction.

"Our allies and adversaries alike are being forced to negotiate a thicket of conflicting policy statements from a US administration [that is] unable to develop, coordinate and clearly communicate a coherent foreign - let alone nuclear - policy."