Amid increasingly volatile risk environments, many governments are not demonstrating the capacity to meet today’s nuclear security challenges.
Of the 46 countries and Taiwan with nuclear facilities, 25 countries and Taiwan have lower Risk Environment scores than they did in the 2020 NTI Index. 9 countries had their score decrease by 5 points or more and 3 had their score decrease by 10 points or more. (See Figure 4a.)
19 countries with nuclear facilities had their Risk Environment score swing in the other direction; scores increased by 5 points or more in 11 countries and by 10 points or more in 2 countries.
For the 46 countries and Taiwan with nuclear facilities, there is a strong correlation (+0.76) between Risk Environment score and overall performance in the 2023 NTI Index. (See Figure 4b.)
16 of the 46 countries and Taiwan with nuclear facilities do not require plans for protecting nuclear infrastructure during a natural or human-caused disaster. (See Figure 4c.)
Countries and areas should prioritize nuclear security when working through periods of instability or heightened risk to ensure that nuclear security shortcomings are addressed before risks become unmanageable.
When contemplating policy decisions that could exacerbate their risk environment, governments should carefully consider the ramifications for nuclear security. This could include crafting plans to mitigate nuclear security risks when weighing national security policies.
Countries and areas, with support from international institutions, should strengthen norms and laws prohibiting the targeting of civilian nuclear facilities. By recognizing that an attack on a civilian nuclear facility is in no one’s interest, such a framework could help prevent senseless destruction.
Governments should require nuclear operators to take steps to increase their facilities’ resiliency in case of extended crises caused by natural or political shocks. By starting from a more robust baseline, nuclear facilities will be more prepared to weather unforeseen calamities.