The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)* and Economist Intelligence Unit have released the second edition of the Nuclear Materials Security Index. The index assesses security in the 25 countries with more than one kilogram of weapon-usable nuclear material. Australia was again ranked first; North Korea was again ranked last:
The index will feed into the March 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the third iteration of a conference proposed by President Obama in his 2009 Prague speech. According to the report, this year's summit will be able to 'point to measurable progress toward the goal of reducing and securing the materials needed to build a nuclear bomb.' Still, 'the path to a terrorist bomb is not hard to imagine.' Here's what IAEA chief Yukiya Amano had to say about the threat of nuclear terrorism in June 2013:
Well over a hundred incidents of thefts and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the IAEA every year. This means the material is outside regulatory control and potentially available for malicious acts. Some material goes missing and is never found.
Most of the incidents reported to us are fairly minor, but some are more serious. However, effective counter-measures are possible if all countries take the threat seriously.
*The Lowy Institute’s International Security Program receives funding support from the Nuclear Security Project of NTI for its research and policy outreach on nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament with a focus on Asia.