Seven Minutes to Midnight: Mankind Drifts Toward Unparalleled Catastrophe

An international congress of  anti-nuclear movement activists was held in St. Petersburg; the Nuclear Free Future Award was presented at the congress. Names of the 2002 laureates were announced by the international jury, which consisted of philosopher Joan Galtung; Hollywood actor Val Kilmer; human rights activist Angela Davis; member of the German parliament Monika Griefahn; writers  Kirkpatrick Sale, Till Bastian, Vanamali Gunturu, and Peter Stefan Jungk; physicist Alfred Koerblein; historian Robert Venables; Arctic explorer Ann Bankroft; activist of the movement for peace Sue Durr; journalist Carl Grossman; peace-activist John Otronto; environmentalist Christine von Weizsacker; and the managing director of IPPNW-Germany (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Frank Uhe.

President of the Russian Center for Ecology Policy Alexey Yablokov and Director of the Center for Safe Energy, the co-founder of the Institute for Deep Ecology Francis Macy, were awarded with the Lifetime Achievement award. Yablokov and Macy worked together to create the Nuclear Watchdog Network, which unites public organizations monitoring  nuclear objects in Russia and Ukraine.

Israeli nuclear scientist Mordecai Vanunu became a laureate for the Resistance nomination. While working as a technician at Israel’s Dimona in 1976-1985, Mordecai learnt that Israel was involved in covert production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Vanunu was sure that it was his responsibility to inform the people in Israel and in the whole of the world of this fact, especially against the background of the Mideast tension. The London Sunday Times published an article on the front page “Revealed: The Secrets of Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal,” which was based on interviews with Vanunu in October 1986. However, the scientist never saw the publication, as five days prior, he was lured to Rome where he was kidnapped by Israeli secret agents. Vanunu was secretly tried and convicted of treason and espionage. The first eleven years of his 18-year imprisonment he spent in solitary confinement. The imprisonment was  to be over in 2006 only. Mordecai Vanunu doesn’t regret what he did, as he strongly believes that people cannot be indifferent to the problem of nuclear weapons, no matter where the weapons are. Vanunu was awarded with the Nuclear-Free Future prize for his brave and selfless act.

Norwegian peace and anti-nuke activist Ole Kopreitan received the Nuclear-Free Future Education Award for his 40-years of fighting for a Europe free from nuclear weapons and energy; for this very reason, he was arrested several times. The greatest achievement of Kopreitan’s activity, as he himself thinks, came in 1975, when the Norwegian parliament decided that Norway wouldn’t use nuclear energy.

New Zealand politician Helen Clark received the Nuclear-Free Future Solutions Award for her historical contribution as a political visionary in nuclear disarmament. She is considered the architect of New Zealand’s present-day anti-nuclear policy. Helen Clark has been New Zealand’s prime-minister since 1999; she is proud that her country “is in the vanguard of the universal disarmament movement.” The politician says that her government will keep on strengthening the alliance with non-nuclear states in order to create a world free from nuclear weapons.

The Special Recognition award was given to The Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, the USA; the Bulletin was first issued in 1945 by scientists of the former Manhattan Project. Director-General of the Bulletin Michael Moore says that the Bulletin’s main objective is to make archaic the words said by Albert Einstein in 1946. The famous scientist had said that “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
The Bulletin's icon became the Doomsday Clock as it ticks towards midnight. The hands of the clock were rearranged 17 times, but now the minute hand has been moved from nine to seven minutes to midnight, the same setting at which the clock debuted 55 years ago.

Andrey Lubensky

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Author`s name Michael Simpson