India has improved its ranking by one spot from 2016 and now stands 19th in the ‘Theft Ranking’ for countries with weapons usable nuclear materials, according to the Nuclear Security Index released Wednesday.
The index was released by the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which is co-chaired by Sam Nunn and Ernest Moni.
The biennial NTI index finds that despite these growing risks, progress to secure, minimise and eliminate the world’s deadliest materials as well as to ensure the security of nuclear facilities has accelerated since 2016.
According to the report, India’s nuclear security conditions could be improved by strengthening on-site physical protection, control and accounting, insider threat prevention, security during transport and cybersecurity by hosting an international security review and by establishing an independent regulatory agency.
“India’s nuclear security conditions are adversely affected by the continued increase of weapons-usable nuclear materials, the large number of sites where those materials are located, corruption challenges, and the judgment that groups interested in and capable of illicitly acquiring nuclear materials are present in the country,” the report said.
Neighboring Pakistan ranks 20th in the Theft Ranking for countries with weapons usable nuclear materials.
Since 2016, Pakistan improved its nuclear security conditions by defining nuclear security responsibilities and by enhancing insider threat prevention, it said.
“Pakistan could improve by enhancing personnel vetting; by strengthening control and accounting, cybersecurity, and security during transport; and by hosting an international security review,” the report said.
Pakistan’s nuclear security conditions are adversely affected by continued increases of weapons-usable nuclear materials, by political stability and corruption challenges, and by the judgment that groups interested in and capable of illicitly acquiring nuclear materials are present,” it said.
For advancing the global nuclear security agenda, the report recommends building an effective global nuclear security system, defending against the growing risk of cyberattack, and improving state stewardship of nuclear materials and facilities.
As of now, 22 countries have weapons-usable nuclear materials, compared with 32 when the first NTI Index was released in 2012, the report said.
In the past two years, Argentina and Poland have joined the list of countries that have removed or disposed of all highly enriched uranium within their territories, it said.
Australia, which was at the top in 2012, 2014, and 2016 among the 22 countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials, this time shares the top spot with Switzerland.
Japan improved its score more than any other country since 2012 by decreasing its quantities of nuclear materials and improving insider threat-prevention measures, as well as physical and cybersecurity regulations.
China, Belgium, and Germany made notable improvements to their scores by taking important steps in areas such as insider threat prevention, cybersecurity and physical security during transport and at facilities, the report said.
Finland, New Zealand, and Sweden tied for the top ranking among countries with less than one kilogram of or no weapons-usable nuclear materials, it said.