india ranks 19th in 'theft rankings' regarding nuclear materials security

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India has been ranked at the 19th position, one position above since the last rankings by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)- Nuclear Security Index that published a report on theft rankings of ‘weapon-usable’ nuclear materials on September 05.

The report lists Australia and Switzerland on the first position with a score of 94 each, followed by Canada with 89, Germany and Japan with 88 out of a total of 100.

The NTI index is basically used to assess the state of nuclear security in countries that possess nuclear materials. In order to ensure utmost transparency and accuracy, the NTI works closely with an International Panel of experts to identify the various indicators that will characterise a country’s nuclear security conditions.

What Is The Theft Ranking?

Nuclear materials are comprised of isotopes of Uranium, thorium, and Plutonium that are capable of sustaining a chain reaction in a process that releases energy called nuclear fission.

The theft ranking assesses the security conditions of nuclear materials in two kinds of countries. First, 22 countries with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials and secondly,154 countries with less than one kilogram of or no weapons-usable nuclear materials all. Weapons-usable nuclear material refers to enriched uranium and separated plutonium that can be used to make possible nuclear weapons.

Countries without weapons-usable material are also included to make sure they don’t act as safe havens or transit routes for illicit nuclear activities. This year, sabotage rankings have also been made a part of the index. Sabotage rankings asses the nuclear security conditions of 44 countries and Taiwan with nuclear facilities that can result in the release of dangerous radiations. These radiations could have serious health consequences hence, they have also been made a part of the index.

The report noted that except in North Korea, all the other countries had shown improvement in minimising and eliminating the world’s deadliest materials. The report suggested that India’s nuclear security conditions could be improved by strengthening on-site physical protection, control, and accounting, insider threat prevention, security during transport, cyber-security by hosting an international security review and by establishing an independent regulatory agency.

While India holds a score of 46 out of 100, it is followed by Pakistan on the 20th position with 44 points. “Pakistan could improve by enhancing personnel vetting; by strengthening control and accounting, cyber-security, and security during transport; and by hosting an international security review,” the report said.

The report highlighted that India along with North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom had increased their quantities of weapon-usable nuclear materials. Belgium, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Russia all face a heightened risk that a capable terrorist group could commit acts of nuclear terrorism, the report further stated.

China, Belgium, and Germany made notable improvements to their scores by taking important steps in areas such as insider threat prevention, cyber-security, and physical security during transport and at facilities, the report further stated.

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