Nuclear security has become a major concern for India and the global community in recent years. Concerns around nuclear terrorism, including the so-called ‘dirty bomb’, have become particularly pressing in the last decade. Realistically speaking, it is only a matter of acquiring weapon-grade fissionable material-highly enriched uranium (HEU) and/or plutonium-for a terrorist group(s) to build nuclear explosives. All the sensitive material that is required to build a nuclear bomb is less than 10 kg of plutonium or a few tens of kg of HEU (Nagasaki–Fat man: 6.2 kg of Pu; Hiroshima-Little Boy: 64 kg of U). The threat is real; there have been 16 documented cases alone worldwide of theft or loss of HEU/Pu from January 1993 to December 2013, according to the Incident and Trafficking Database of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It comes as no surprise that nuclear security is therefore one of the prime policy concerns of this century. It is not only a challenging policy issue but also a technological concern in terms of keeping record of the entire inventory of potentially dangerous material worldwide, securing them and detecting their diversion for terrorist activities.
To coincide with the bi-annual Nuclear Security Summits (NSS), the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) developed a nuclear material security index (2 editions thus far: 2012, 2014). The NTI, supported by an international panel of nuclear security experts and technical advisors, has developed the framework and priorities of the index, while the EIU was responsible for developing the analytical model for the index and gathering the data. The NTI Index primarily presents an assessment of nuclear material security conditions of 25 countries which possess one kg or more of weapons-grade nuclear material based on 5 broad categories, namely: Quantities and Sites; Security and Control measures; Global norms; Domestic Commitments and Capacity; and Risk Environment. Each of these categories has indicators (both quantitative and qualitative), which further have sub-indicators.
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Dr Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. Dr ...Read More +