Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The Washington Post: Going nuclear-free

The Washington Post

The Washington Post

First Published Jan 15 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jan 15 2014 01:01 am

Efforts by Iran and North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons have been at the forefront of diplomacy and international concern over the past few years, and justifiably so. Neither country has been convincingly stopped, although Iran is negotiating. Elsewhere, though, there has been progress toward preventing nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a nongovernmental organization, has just published the second edition of its global index on the security of nuclear materials, prepared with help from the Economist Intelligence Unit. The report shows that, since the first study was released in 2012, seven nations — Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, Ukraine and Vietnam — have removed all or most of the nuclear weapons-usable material from their territory.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

This brings the number of countries with more than a kilogram of such material down to 25,compared with more than 50 states two decades ago. The index also shows that 13 states with more than a kilogram have reduced their stocks in the past four years, including Russia and the United States.

This kind of incremental progress often escapes wide attention; giving up such nuclear materials as highly enriched uranium and plutonium is not often accompanied by a parade. Some of the impetus has been the regular nuclear security summits that began in 2010, where leaders made commitments, and many carried them out. The next summit is in March in the Netherlands.

Before anyone heaves a sigh of relief, a lot still needs to be done. The four nations at the bottom of the NTI’s index present familiar and continuing concerns: North Korea is dead last, followed by Iran, India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan, both of which are increasing their stocks of nuclear materials, are still a particularly worrisome flashpoint.

Despite its rank on the index, Pakistan was praised for improved laws and regulations that tighten on-site physical protection. However, the study pointed out the dangers of Pakistan’s instability, corruption and "the presence and capability on its territory of criminal or terrorist groups interested in illicitly acquiring nuclear materials."

Perhaps the most important finding in the study is connected not to any single nation but rather to the lack of a global system of oversight. About 2,000 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials are spread around the world, yet "there is still no effective global system for how nuclear materials should be secured," no common global standards or best practices, nor a way to hold nations accountable, according to the study.

President Obama once pledged to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials in four years. The deadline won’t be met — this is a long game and a long slog. But the goal remains worthy.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.