Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think-tank, on 14 January 2016 released the 2016 Nuclear Security Index with the theme Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action.
The Index assessed global nuclear security conditions in 176 countries in two areas - the potential theft of weapons-usable nuclear materials and the potential sabotage of nuclear facilities.
Among the 24 states with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world, while Australia was adjudged as the safest, India was among the least safe with the 21st rank.
Nevertheless, compared to the previous edition of the biannual publication, India improved two ranks by participating in bilateral assistance activities with the USA and putting in place the IAEA Additional Protocol.
The index also identifies where progress has been made and recommends steps that can be taken by leaders at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) that is scheduled to be held in March 2016 in Washington DC.
Highlights of the report
• Theft ranking: Australia (1), Switzerland (2), Canada (3), Poland (4) were in the top four safest, While Pakistan (22), Iran (23) and North Korea (24) were the most unsafe.
• Japan is the most improved state. France, the United States, and the United Kingdom score the highest among nuclear-armed states.
• The United States, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom are the most improved nuclear-armed states.
• Among states with less than one kilogram of or no weapons-usable nuclear materials, Sweden ranks first, and Djibouti is the most improved.
• Sabotage ranking: Finland ranks first among the 45 states that have nuclear facilities vulnerable to sabotage.
• Key trends: Progress in securing and eliminating materials has slowed as it was evident that no improvements have been made in the core protection and control measures.
• Global stocks of weapons-usable nuclear materials have decreased overall, but trends point to an increase in the near future.
• States without materials are supporting global norms and implementing international commitments.
• Remaining Challenges: The Nuclear Security Summits have had a positive effect, but the strategic goal of developing an effective global nuclear security system remains unachieved.
• Countries with new or emerging nuclear energy programs struggle to meet the threat.
• Nuclear facilities are not prepared for the growing cyber threat. Of the 24 states with weapons-usable nuclear materials and the 23 states that have nuclear facilities but no weapons-usable nuclear materials, 13 receive a maximum score for cyber security.
The report suggested following measures to build an effective global nuclear security system.
• Strengthen and build confidence in the security of military materials.
• Bolster the international legal foundation for nuclear security.
• Increase international confidence in the effectiveness of nuclear security, and help build accountability.
• Commit to further decreasing stocks of weapons usable nuclear materials.
While the above suggestions pertain to the measures at the global level, the following measures are suggested to individual states to improve safety of nuclear materials-
• Strengthen cyber security at nuclear facilities and build technical capacity.
• Improve security and control measures to protect materials from theft and facilities from sabotage.
• Ensure that effective nuclear security regimes are in place before building nuclear energy programs.
• Establish independent regulatory agencies, and strengthen existing ones.
• Deliver on nuclear security commitments.
About the Index
• The Index assessed the contribution of 24 states with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials towards improved global nuclear materials security conditions, using 5 categories, namely, Quantities and Sites, Security and Control Measures, Global Norms, Domestic Commitments and Capacity and Risk Environment.
• While the "theft ranking" was included in the 2012 and 2014 editions of the NTI Index, the “potential sabotage part” was included for first time in the index. In addition, the 2016 index included the assessment of country actions to meet the emerging cyber threat to nuclear facilities.
• An additional 151 states, with less than one kilogram of material or none at all, are assessed using three categories, namely, Global Norms, Domestic Commitments and Capacity and Risk Environment.
• The index is a joint effort between NTI and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the USA.
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When: 14 January 2016