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Pakistan ‘Most Improved Country’ on Nuclear Security Index

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Rizwan Tabassum—AFP

Non-proliferation watchdog says Islamabad’s ranking boost linked to actions taken to strengthen regulations

Non-proliferation watchdog Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) on Wednesday released its Nuclear Security Index 2020, ranking Pakistan as the “most improved country” with weapons-usable nuclear materials.

The report says Pakistan “improved its overall score by adopting new on-site physical protection and cybersecurity regulations, improving insider threat protection measures, and more.” It said that Pakistan’s score improvement was the second largest improvement for regulations recorded since 2012.

The Nuclear Security Index ranks countries by two main goals: secure materials and protect facilities. It says Pakistan improved the security of its materials by 7 points in the past year, going from 40 to 47. Overall, its Security and Control Measures score increased by 25 points “due to actions to strengthen its regulations.”

Pakistan also increased its score in Global Norms by 1 point because it subscribed to INFCIRC, establishing principles for the Nuclear Security Contact Group. According to the report, “the group was founded by a group of countries that participated in the summits to facilitate cooperation and sustained engagement on nuclear security after the conclusion of the summits in 2016.”

The report says Pakistan scores high (67-100) in Domestic Commitments and Capacity, medium (34-66) in both Security and Control Measures and Global Norms, and low (0-33) in Quantities and Sites, owing to its continued increases in quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials. It also scores low in Risk Environment.

Summarizing Pakistan’s progress in the past decade, the report said the country’s score had improved in 2014 due to new regulations for on-site physical protection. “In 2016, it passed new cybersecurity regulations. In 2018, it improved its insider threat protection. Its newest regulations mark a much larger shift,” it added.

However, the report notes, there are still key steps that Pakistan needs to take to fill remaining gaps in its nuclear security. These are as follows:

  • Requiring more stringent control and accounting measures
  • Strengthening regulations on insider threat prevention
  • Requiring security culture assessments
  • Ratifying the International Convention for the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism
  • Taking voluntary actions to support the International Atomic Energy Agency, such as contributing to the Nuclear Security Fund and participating at the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security at the ministerial level, as in prior years
  • Building confidence by making regular declarations of quantities of both civilian and military nuclear materials and hosting regular nuclear security peer reviews, including International Physical Protection Advisory Service missions
  • Subscribing to INFCIRC/869
  • Submitting information to the IAEA as required by article 14.1 of the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material

Globally, the report ranked Australia first, while Canada and Switzerland tied for second. Germany ranked fourth, while the Netherlands and Norway tied for fifth.

The Index said that “progress has slowed significantly, countries must strengthen and sustain political attention on nuclear security to drive progress on adopting nuclear security regulations and on building a more effective global nuclear security architecture.”

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