Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

Nuclear safety risks

American watchdog the Nuclear Threat Initiative and The Economist Intelligence Unit have released a first-of-a-kind joint index of the security risk facing nuclear materials and stockpiles around the world. The Nuclear Materials Security Index ranks the “security framework in 32 nations that possess one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials" and comes to some surprising and unsettling conclusions.

The most secure nation overall is Australia. The United Kingdom also fares well in the report although its overall score is negatively influenced by the proliferation of nuclear sites. Other nations consistently near the top of the index include Hungary, the Czech Republic and the expected Scandinavian countries. The United States may take issue with their place on the list, tied at 10 out of 32 with Germany and the UK in overall security rankings. In a ranking of nuclear-armed nations the UK took the top position followed by the US with overall scores of 79 and 78 respectively.

In Asia the lowest scorers are North Korea, Pakistan and Iran, all consistently placed at the bottom of the list but what is unexpected is the relatively poor showing of Asia’s nuclear super-powers: India and China. India ranks a lowly 28th in overall security, below North Korea in terms of societal factors, and below Pakistan in regards to domestic commitments and capacity. In the overall ranking of nuclear-armed nations India scores third to last above Pakistan and North Korea.

China is ranked 27th overall and 29th against societal factors. It takes the fourth from last place above India in the overall security of nuclear-armed states. – Charley Lanyon