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Doomsday Clock 2019: It's Still Two Minutes To Midnight

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(CBS Chicago/CBS Local) -- It's still two minutes to Doomsday. Citing nuclear threats and climate change, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock will remain at two minutes to midnight.

That's according to the University of Chicago-based group's annual statement released on Thursday.

It equals the Doomsday Clock's closest time to midnight in its history. It was set there for the first time in 1953 and then again last year.

"Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world," the group said. "The current international security situation—what we call the "new abnormal"—has extended over two years now."

Climate change poses a growing threat, the scientists said. Global carbon dioxide emissions rose in 2017 and 2018. The 2015 Paris climate agreement "has become increasingly beleaguered," especially after the United States said it would withdraw from the pact.

On the issue of nuclear threats, the group cited strained U.S.-Russian relations, the U.S. pullout from the INF and Iraq arms deals, and the continued threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program.

"Although the United States and North Korea moved away from the bellicose rhetoric of 2017, the urgent North Korean nuclear dilemma remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the world's nuclear nations proceeded with programs of "nuclear modernization" that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race, and the military doctrines of Russia and the United States have increasingly eroded the long-held taboo against the use of nuclear weapons."

The clock was first set at two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the United States tested a hydrogen bomb and Russian exploded a thermonuclear device. Those events set off a decades long nuclear arms race.

In June 2017, the Turn Back the Clock exhibit opened at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The exhibit showcases the Bulletin's history. The exhibit remains open through 2019.

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