Scott A. Roecker
Vice President, Nuclear Materials Security
The 2023 NTI Nuclear Security Index
The NTI Nuclear Security Index for the first time finds that nuclear security conditions are regressing among the dozens of countries and areas with weapons-usable nuclear materials and nuclear facilities. This erosion of nuclear security comes at a time when risk environments are growing more dangerous and overall stockpiles of weapons-usable nuclear materials are increasing at an alarming rate.
“The bottom line is that the countries and areas with the greatest responsibility for protecting the world from a catastrophic act of nuclear terrorism are derelict in their duty,” the 2023 NTI Index reports. “This is a particularly disheartening development with geopolitical and economic instability, violent non-state actors, environmental disasters, and cyber attacks all on the rise.”
Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for prevention, preparation, and accountability, and as Russia willfully endangers Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and faces questions about the security of its own nuclear arsenal, the NTI Index finds a host of troubling developments: stocks of weapons-usable plutonium at civilian nuclear facilities have grown rapidly; little progress has been made since 2020 toward improving security culture and insider threat prevention in countries and areas with weapons-usable nuclear materials and nuclear facilities; and more than a third of countries and areas with nuclear facilities have no regulatory requirements in place for protecting nuclear infrastructure during a natural or human-caused disaster.
The 2023 NTI Index did reveal some bright spots. For example, global norms against civilian use of highly enriched uranium—a weapons-usable nuclear material—are solidifying as inventories gradually decline. The NTI Index also shows that progress is possible over time. Present challenges notwithstanding, countries have made significant improvements since the first NTI Index, released in 2012, tracked and reported on nuclear security conditions worldwide.
Amid escalating threats to nuclear security, NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz called on today’s leaders to prevent hard-fought progress on nuclear security from unravelling: “Governments, international institutions, industry, and civil society, with the support of visionary leaders, have risen to meet moments of great peril in the past. In this new era of instability, it is crucial that the global nuclear security architecture be fortified to prevent nuclear catastrophe. Leaders have an obligation to rise to this challenge. It is time for them to step up to the task.”
Developed in partnership with Economist Impact and now in its sixth edition, the NTI Nuclear Security Index is internationally recognized as the premier resource and tool for tracking progress on global nuclear and radiological security across 175 countries and Taiwan.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on nuclear and biological threats.
Nuclear and radiological security aims to ensure nuclear and other radioactive materials are secure from unauthorized access and theft, and that nuclear facilities are secure from sabotage.
The NTI Index is recognized as the premier resource and tool for evaluating global nuclear and radiological security.
Archives of Global Incidents and Trafficking Database, 2013-2018. (CNS)