The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has held a news conference in the National Press Club of Washington to release the 2014 NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index, a unique public assessment of nuclear materials security conditions in 176 countries, developed with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a mission to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and CNN founder Ted Turner, NTI is guided by an international board of directors.
Released in advance of the March 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, the NTI Index assesses 25 countries with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear material as well as 151 countries that have less than one kilogram or no materials but could be used as safe havens, staging grounds or transit points for illicit materials.
“A nuclear detonation in any part of the world will affect us all. We need a global nuclear materials security system to secure all materials, to employ international standards and best practices, and to give states the capacity to assess nuclear security globally and hold each other accountable,” said NTI Co-Chairman and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. “Leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit must resolve these fundamental issues to strengthen global security in the long-term.”
“Leaders of nuclear armed states need to raise confidence in the security of all nuclear materials, whether civilian or military. No one would have confidence in an international civil aviation system if regulations only applied to 15 percent of the planes that fly,” NTI President Joan Rohlfing said. “Why should our nuclear materials security rules apply only to a small fraction of these dangerous materials?”
Since the release of the 2012 NTI Index, seven countries—Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, Ukraine and Vietnam—have removed all or most of their stocks of weapons-usable nuclear materials from their territories, according to the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. In doing so, they have taken one of the most important steps toward ensuring that terrorists cannot gain access to these nuclear materials. In the context of the NTI Index, these countries move from the list assessing countries with weapons-usable materials to the list of those without.
As in 2012, Australia again ranks first among the 25 states with weapons-usable nuclear materials. Notably, Australia improved its score from 2012 by reducing quantities of materials and ratifying a key international legal agreement that commits states to criminalize acts of nuclear terrorism. Rounding out the top five countries in this category are: Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Norway.
Among countries with weapons-usable materials, Belgium, Canada and Japan are most improved, compared to 2012. Among nuclear-armed states, France, the United Kingdom and the United States lead in scoring, with France tied for seventh and the United Kingdom and the United States tied for 11th.
Azerbaijan, which attended the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, has been positively ranked in the Index for its cooperation.
Drawing attention to the illicit circulation of weapons in Azerbaijan`s territories occupied by Armenia, AzerTAc`s special correspondent to US Yusif Babanli asked speakers of the news conference about lack of information on nuclear materials and weapons in uncontrolled territories of the post-soviet space: “The 2014 NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index” has only a public assessment of nuclear materials security conditions in 176 member-countries of the United Nations. However, there are still conflicts in the post-soviet space, which led to appearance of uncontrolled territories. For example, Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s territory, but Armenia gets positive estimation in the Index for its cooperation on elimination of nuclear weapons. Who guarantees that Armenia does not hide and pile up nuclear arms in uncontrolled territories of the Nagorno-Karabakh, and how will you solve this problem?”
Answering the question, Leo Abruzzese, Global Forecasting Director of Economist Intelligence Unit, pointed out that such a problem exists, because the organization generates data and gives estimation to countries in accordance with collected and accessible information under 56 criteria of the program of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. In case of uncontrolled territories, it is impossible to get information, because there are no authorities in those territories and no conformity with international conventions, since potential risk piling up materials in uncontrolled territories exists, the issue remains pressing and possibly, it will be discussed in the next international summit on nuclear security to be held in the Netherlands in May, Abruzzese said.