North Korea

North Korea has world's worst security for nuclear materials: report

The Stalinist nation has the worst security conditions for nuclear materials among countries that possess 1kg or more of weapons-usable materials

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 2:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:05pm

North Korea ranked lowest in the world when it comes to the security conditions of its nuclear materials, while China ranked sixth-lowest, revealed a survey published by a US non-profit group on Wednesday.

The Stalinist country had the worst security conditions for nuclear materials among the world’s 25 nations that possess 1kg or more of weapons-usable materials, showed the second edition of the Nuclear Materials Security Index.

North Korea scored 30 out of 100 points in the index by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a Washington-based group that seeks to curb the threat of nuclear terrorism, and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

“I view the index as a framework — grounded in solid data which should help inform our priorities globally in terms of securing nuclear material and preventing catastrophic terrorism,” explained Sam Nunn, NTI’s chief executive officer and co-chairman.

For the survey, the two groups analysed quantities and sites of nuclear materials, current security measures, participation in international legal agreements, domestic commitments to meet international obligations and risk of nuclear theft.

The lack of reliable information on North Korea’s nuclear programme complicated research efforts, explained NTI.

The secretive state ranked below average on most indicators including control procedures, voluntary commitments, international assurances, safeguards adherence, political stability and effective governance.

Iran had the second-worst nuclear security conditions, followed by India, Pakistan, Israel and China, according to the survey.

China ranked sixth-worst for nuclear security, scoring 64 per cent, because its regulatory structures lacked key requirements for keeping materials secure, said the report.

It ranked below average for insider threat prevention, quantities of nuclear materials and pervasiveness of corruption.

Among the countries that hold weapons-usable nuclear materials, Australia had the best security conditions, followed by Canada, Switzerland, Germany and Norway.

NTI and EIU also surveyed 151 nations that have less than 1kg or no materials but could be used as safe havens, transit points or staging grounds of illegal materials.

Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Spain and Slovenia had the five best nuclear security conditions among countries that possess less than 1kg of materials.

The report recommended surveyed countries to participate in international peer reviews of their nuclear programmes, publish their regulations and declare inventories, among other steps, to boost security.

“We must develop an effective and accountable global system for how nuclear materials should be secured,” said Nunn of NTI. “This job is far from achieved and must be on the global front burner.”