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For over two decades, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), an international nonprofit security organization, has been steadfast in its mission to mitigate nuclear threats. In their latest assessment, the Nuclear Security Index lauds Pakistan for significant improvements in its nuclear security measures.

Regarding Pakistan’s specific scores, it received a high score of 100 in Domestic Commitments and Capacity, indicating robust commitments and capabilities in this area. In Security and Control Measures, it achieved a score of 57, while in Global Norms, it obtained a score of 44. However, in the category of Quantities and Sites, Pakistan received a score of 19. In terms of the security of its nuclear facilities, Pakistan is ranked at an impressive 32, standing alongside prominent players like Kremlin and TelAviv, and even outshining New Delhi, Tehran, and Mexico among the 47 nations on the list.

Pakistan has gained 3 points, achieving a total score of 49, while India’s score remains unchanged at 40. This improvement in Pakistan’s material security score reflects the nation’s commitment to bolstering safeguards concerning its weapons-usable nuclear materials and facilities. By outperforming India in this aspect, Pakistan showcases its dedication to mitigating potential risks and ensuring the safety and security of its nuclear assets. Moreover, Pakistan’s ranking above India in the security of facilities category holds additional significance. This means that Pakistan has made notable progress in ensuring the protection and resiliency of its nuclear facilities, surpassing not only India but also other countries like Iran, Mexico, South Africa, Egypt, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Despite these encouraging advancements, the NTI has expressed deep concerns over the deteriorating global nuclear security situation compared to previous years. Alarming trends have been observed in several countries, including Pakistan, France, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and the UK, where there has been an increase in stocks of nuclear materials. This distressing trend coincides with a worrisome rise in overall stockpiles of weapons-usable nuclear materials, posing a significant threat to global security. The NTI Index explicitly points out that countries and regions with the greatest responsibility for protecting the world from catastrophic nuclear terrorism are, in the Index’s terms, “derelict in their duty.”

The 2023 NTI Nuclear Security Index emphasizes the need for immediate measures to cap and reduce existing plutonium inventories. Promoting non-weapons-usable alternatives to plutonium and avoiding nuclear energy technologies involving a plutonium fuel cycle are crucial steps to mitigate potential threats. India possesses excessive plutonium that could be used for weapon development. It has raised serious concerns not only within the region but also on the global stage. It underscores the importance of responsible nuclear stewardship and adherence to non-proliferation norms by all nuclear-armed states.

The report also highlights the lack of progress in enhancing security culture and preventing insider threats since 2020. Governments and nuclear operators are urged to adopt a comprehensive approach to effectively identify and mitigate insider threats, necessitating strengthened information sharing and collaboration between regulators, intelligence organizations, law enforcement, industry, and non-governmental organizations.
While the 2023 NTI Index reveals distressing trends, it also sheds light on some positive developments. Global norms against civilian use of highly enriched uranium are gradually solidifying, showcasing the potential for progress over time. These positive aspects demonstrate that concerted efforts and international cooperation can yield significant results in enhancing nuclear security.

Amidst escalating threats to nuclear security, NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz issues a compelling call to action. He urges governments, international institutions, industry stakeholders, and civil society to unite with visionary leadership to fortify the global nuclear security architecture. Preventing the unwinding of hard-fought progress on nuclear security is not just a responsibility but an obligation for leaders worldwide. The collaboration between the NTI and Economist Impact in developing the Nuclear Security Index underscores its significance as a premier resource and tool for tracking progress on global nuclear and radiological security. However, the report’s findings necessitate a deeper commitment from all stakeholders to address the identified challenges effectively.

Nonetheless, Islamabad remains steadfastly committed to the objective of nuclear security and has been actively engaging with the international community to promote nuclear safety. Pakistan’s well-developed nuclear infrastructure, supported by various foreign nations, strengthens its efforts toward a secure nuclear landscape. Commendably, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has praised Pakistan’s safety standards, acknowledging the country’s deployment of state-of-the-art technological solutions and proactive stance on information sharing within the nuclear domain. As the world faces increasing complexities in nuclear security, Pakistan’s progress serves as an exemplar for other nations to emulate, bringing us closer to a safer and more secure global future.

Publication Link: https://www.eurasiareview.com/21072023-advancing-nuclear-security-global-challenges-and-pakistans-progress-oped/

Sher bano
Research Officer, SVI

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