India's nuclear materials among least secure in world: Study

India along with China, North Korea and Israel has low levels of transparency on nuclear materials and security, an independent report has said.

“Four countries have particularly low levels of transparency, specifically Israel, North Korea, India and China, on materials and materials security,” said Page Stoutland, vice president for nuclear materials at the Washington-based independent Nuclear Threat Initiative.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative, in a project led by former US senator Sam Nunn and the Economist Intelligence Unit, aims to draw attention to steps that nations can take to ensure the safety of the world’s most destructive weapons.

On Wednesday it released first of its kind 32-nation index and country-by-country assessment of the status of nuclear material security conditions around the world.

At a news conference, along with Nunn, Stoutland said low level of transparency of countries like India most directly affects the scores in the global norms category.

“For example, if India were as transparent as the United Kingdom, its rank in the global norms category would move from 26th to sixth overall,” he said.

“Appropriate levels of transparency are critical because independent of the specific security posture on the ground, it affects the international confidence in a country’s nuclear materials security conditions,” Stoutland said.

The list of 32 countries is topped by Australia, followed by Hungry and Czech Republic. United Kingdom is ranked 10th and the United States finds itself on the 13th spot.

While China is placed 27th overall, India gets the next spot at 28th. Pakistan is second last at 31st and North Korea is at the bottom of the list of 32 countries. Israel is ranked 25th.

Stoutland said the index revealed the stocks of weapons- usable materials continued to increase in a few countries.

Total stocks in Japan and the United Kingdom are increasing because of civilian use, whereas total stocks are increasing in India and Pakistan due to military programs, he said.

Deepti Choubey, senior director for nuclear and bio-security, National Threat Initiative, said that all countries including India, Iran and Pakistan were briefed about the report.

“Pakistan and India were briefed I think it was a very constructive conversation with them about what we were trying to do. All three of those countries also received a data validation. And what we know is that both governments, you know, considered, you know, the request that they in the end chose not to answer our data validation request either in whole or in part,” she said in response to a question.

Senator Nunn said the nuclear materials spread across 32 countries are poorly secured.

“There’s also greater know-how today to build a bomb widely available, and there are terrorists organisations determined to get the material and to build a weapon if they can,” he said.

“It’s not a piece of cake for terrorists, and we don’t want to pretend that it is. But it’s far from impossible. And nuclear materials security is the number one defense that we have to prevent nuclear terrorism,” Nunn stressed.

Source: India Today


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