The NTI Security Index review
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) this week published their Security Index: an academic framework designed to outline the relative levels of weapons-usable chemical material in existence worldwide. Constructed in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit – the intelligence arm of the Economist magazine – the Security Index is the first of its kind and seeks to initiate debate among governments, academics and defence professionals, as well as build consensus among them on the subject of global security against nuclear weapons and the development of materials such as highly-enriched uranium, separated plutonium, and unirradiated mixed oxide.
Australia topped the overall index as a country that continues to demonstrate an exemplary level of nuclear regulation and maintain low levels of weapons-usable chemical material. At the bottom of that list however, were some familiar names: North Korea, Pakistan, China, Iran and Vietnam (many of whom notably failed to co-operate with the NTI’s research team). The criteria imposed on each country by the NTI were broad, encompassing consideration of societal factors such as a country’s level of corruption, economic and political stability, and the extent to which transparency is evident, i.e., a country’s willingness to invite peer-review and sign up to treaties governing the production of chemical materials.
This week also saw an announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) that the infamous measure of the possibility of nuclear war and global disaster, the Doomsday Clock, would be moved a minute closer to midnight – indicating the enormity of the task ahead. If the NTI Index is not, strictly speaking, a call to disarmament it candidly reiterates the still very real danger of unregulated nuclear production and the widespread lack of governmental accountability.
The strength of the Security Index lies not in its assessment of nations, such as Australia, that score highly but by way of the fact that it draws attention to countries with the lowest scores. It comes as no surprise that many of the countries mentioned by the BAS as being primarily responsible for the recent amendment of the Doomsday Clock are those that failed to comply with the Security Index. The NTI will have to escalate its efforts and sharpen its teeth – in much the same way as Human Rights Watch has to counter international human rights breaches – to stop it merely being a back-slapping exercise for the virtuous.
Download it yourself here: