Seven countries have eliminated, or greatly reduced, their arsenal of weapons-usable nuclear materials since the Nuclear Threat Initiative first released its annual index of nuclear materials security in 2012, according to an NTI release. The 2014 NTI Index, which was released Jan. 8, assesses the security of nuclear materials in 176 countries. Those countries that have “clean[ed] out,” include Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, Ukraine, and Vietnam, states a release summarizing the report’s findings. Australia once again ranks first among the 25 states with weapons-usable nuclear materials, states the report. However, NTI notes Australia has improved its score by reducing some of its arsenal and by ratifying an international legal agreement that criminalizes nuclear terrorism. According to the Index, Pakistan is “the most improved” among the nuclear-armed states, thanks to “a series of steps [taken] to update nuclear security regulations and to implement best practices,” states the report. The NTI Index recommends nuclear-capable states work together to find an “effective global system” that regulates all nuclear material, including those in the military, states the release. “No one would have confidence in an international aviation system if regulations only applied to 15 percent of the planes that fly,” said NTI President Joan Rohlfing. “Why should our nuclear materials security rules apply only to a small fraction of these dangerous materials?”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.