The Doomsday Clock was set up in 1947 by atomic scientists concerned at the growing nuclear tensions between the US and Soviet Union. Initially the clock read seven minutes to midnight, and moved to two minutes to midnight after the first hydrogen bombs were tested. Until yesterday the time on the clock was 14 minutes to midnight.

The board claims that the tests by India and Pakistan are a symptom of the failure of the international community to fully commit itself to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It points in particular to the failure of the Russia Duma and the US Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Of the five nuclear powers, only France and the UK have so far ratified the CTBT. The Duma has also refused to ratify the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty. Over 30, 000 nuclear weapons are currently kept in a state of readiness by Russia and the US.

Meanwhile the government in Pakistan has announced a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and says that it is ready to formalise this arrangement with India. However, Pakistan is still refusing to sign the CTBT.