NTI Co-Chairman Sam Nunn highlighted the threat of nuclear terrorism at the 2014 NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index press conference. "We know there is nearly 2,000 metric tons of this material spread across hundreds of sites in 25 countries, and we know much of it is not effectively secured," said Nunn. "We know that terrorists would only need enough highly enriched uranium to fit into a 5-pound bag of sugar or an amount of plutonium the size of a grapefruit."
The index, Nunn said, was created to respond for this sobering set of facts. "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."
Those priorities, said NTI President Joan Rohlfing, must serve as the building blocks for a global nuclear materials security system. "As the Index findings make clear, right now we have no shared global system for nuclear security," said Rohlfing.
"That means no common international standards. No governing body with the mandate and resources for proper oversight. No expectation for states to take actions that build confidence in the effectiveness of their security practices. And finally, no mechanism for holding countries accountable."