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Global annihilation is now two minutes away on Doomsday Clock

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Global annihilation is now two minutes away on Doomsday Clock

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Jim Lo Scalzo EPA
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We are now just two minutes away from the apocalypse — thanks largely to President Donald Trump.

That was the dire warning Thursday from the atomic scientists who run the metaphorical Doomsday Clock — and who have moved the hands 30 seconds closer to midnight, which represents the moment the world could be annihilated by nuclear war.

Image: Doomsday Clock moved to two minutes to midnight
Left to right: scientists Sivan Kartha, Lawrence Krauss, Robert Rosner, and Sharon Squassoni announce that they have adjusted the so-called 'Doomsday Clock' to two minutes to midnight at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Jim Lo Scalzo EPA

"The world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago, it is as threatening as it has been since World War II," Lawrence Krauss and Robert Rosner wrote Thursday in The Washington Post. "In fact, the Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight today as it was in 1953, when Cold War fears perhaps reached their highest levels."

That year President Harry Truman announced the U.S. had developed a hydrogen bomb.

Calling Trump "an undisciplined and disruptive president," the scientists said that under his leadership the U.S. has "backed away from its long-standing leadership role in the world."

His decision to leave the Paris Climate Accordcoupled with the conflicting signals on a host of other pressing issues — plus his bellicose rhetoric aimed at North KoreaandIran— has sown even more uncertainty.

"Neither allies nor adversaries have been able to reliably predict U.S. actions of discern between sincere U.S. pronouncements and mere rhetoric," wrote Krauss and Rosner, who sit on the board of Chicago-based Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which is the science journal that oversees the clock.

The failure of "Trump and other world leaders to deal with the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change" has endangered our very existence, they added.

NBC News has reached out to the White House for a rebuttal.

Trump has vowed to expand America's nuclear capabilities and has claimed that global warming is ahoax, never mind that most scientists and departments like NASA and the Pentagon agree it poses a very real threat to America and the world.

Image: Trump signs directives to impose tariffs on washing machines and solar panels in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump sits at his desk on Tuesday. Jonathan Ernst Reuters

Last year, the bulletin pushed the clock from three minutes to midnight to two and a half because "of destabilizing comments and threats from America's new commander in chief" and Trump's blatant disregard of facts and science.

The group's latest warning comes as Trump has been waging a war of words with the leader of North Korea over that country's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program.

Trump's threats against Pyongyang have not resulted in "a temporary freeze on North Korea's development" and the communist country's neighbors are growing increasing nervous, the scientists warned.

The nuclear threat is also growing in Europe as U.S. and Russian relations fray and as NATO conducts military exercises along the Russian border while upgrading their nuclear arsenals and "eschewing arms control negotiations" with Moscow.

"And in the Middle East, uncertainty about continued U.S. support for the landmark Iranian nuclear deal adds to a bleak overall picture," the scientists wrote in the Post.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2015 agreement under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions — despite assurances by the International Atomic Energy Agency that the country has been in compliance.

Pivoting to climate change, Krauss and Rosner said the danger "may seem less immediate that risk of nuclear annihilation" but it needs to be dealt with now to avoid a catastrophe.

"The Trump administration's decision essentially to turn a blind eye to climate change transpired against a backdrop of a worsening climate, including exceedingly powerful hurricanes in the Caribbean and other parts of North America and extreme heat waves in Australia, South America, Asia, Europe and California," they wrote.

Also endangering the world "is the rise of cyberthreats targeting national infrastructure, including power grids, water supplies and military systems."

Krauss and Rosner know from whence they speak. Krauss is a distinguished physics professor at Arizona State University. Rosner is a world-renowned professor in the astronomy, astrophysics and physics departments at the University of Chicago.

And the decision to move the time on the clock forward came after consulting the bulletin's Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel Prize winners.