15 January 2010 - Doomsday Clock wind-back an encouraging indicator for nuclear power expansion

The symbolic winding back of the Doomsday Clock of global nuclear destruction should reassure people concerned about the risks of nuclear energy expansion, the uranium industry says.

The Australian Uranium Association welcomed the one-minute wind-back, saying people could take this as a sign that real progress is being made towards reducing the risk of global nuclear war.

The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic representation of the degree of risk of nuclear and other man-made catastrophe faced by the planet in any one year.

In 2009, the clock remained at five minutes to midnight. Overnight, the clock was wound back to six minutes to midnight.

"For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are co-operating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material," said the panel of international scientists, including 19 Nobel laureates, who annually assess the risk of global apocalypse.

Since its inception in 1947, the Doomsday Clock concept has been broadened to cover other technological and environmental threats to the continued existence of the planet.

In this regard, the scientists said that for 2010 they were also encouraged by international progress being made on climate change.

"For the first time ever, industrialised and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable."

Increasingly, countries are turning to nuclear power as a means of providing secure, reliable, long-term electricity supply while reducing the greenhouse gases emitted in generating that electricity.

The AUA acknowledges that many people see the expansion of nuclear power as unacceptable because they believe it could lead to greater risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The AUA strongly supports initiatives to reduce the risk of weapons proliferation and particularly supports the proper resourcing of Australian and international safeguards enforcement bodies.