THE Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) has released the third Nuclear Security Index (NSI), revealing that 20 nations with nuclear capability have no government regulations that require facilities to have security protections against cyber attacks.
The NSI is a public benchmarking of nuclear materials security conditions on a country-by-country basis, collecting the data of 176 countries. The findings show countries such as Russia, India and Algeria have serious security issues over cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are the easiest and most effective way to sabotage, or completely take over a nuclear facility.
The NTI says 20 out the 24 states that have over 1 kg of nuclear fuel and possess weapons-usable material need significant security improvements in cyber, sabotage, or theft control security procedures. If an act of sabotage was to occur at a large facility, it could cause “significant radiological release with consequences on the same or larger scale as Fukushima.”
The report states that nine out the 24 major nuclear countries received a perfect score in cyber defence, while seven countries, including Argentina, Belgium and Spain, received a score of zero for cybersecurity against sabotage.
A further 23 nations with over 1 kg of fuel, but with no weapons-usable material, 13 received a zero score for cyber security indicators.
The study also shows which countries have insufficient security to protect nuclear material from theft. Countries such as China, Egypt and Israel have insufficient cyber and physical securities to prevent material from being stolen.
The UK was ranked joint 3rd with Canada for sabotage defence, and joint 12th with Japan for theft protection.
Sam Nunn, co-chairman of NTI and former US Senator, said, “The purpose of the NTI Index is not to award gold medals or scold those who do not score well. Our purpose is to show how all countries can improve the security of dangerous nuclear materials.”
The NTI has prepared individual recommendations on what each country can do to improve security. There are several general recommendations that the international nuclear community can implement to secure against nuclear terrorism, including:
* Building an effective global nuclear security system that covers all nuclear material for energy or weapons.
* Strengthening cybersecurity at nuclear facilities to ensure they are protected from cyber attacks.
* Ensuring that effective nuclear security is in place before building nuclear energy programmes to ensure the safe operation of new facilities.
Joan Rohlfing, NTI president, said, “The current global nuclear security system has dangerous gaps that prevent it from being truly effective. Until those gaps are closed, terrorists will seek to exploit them. The consequences of inaction in the face of new and evolving threats are simply too great.”
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.