Build Confidence in Nuclear Security


With the exception of publishing regulations, country actions to build confidence in nuclear security remain limited. Information sharing and accountability around stocks of materials are particularly weak, and peer review, critical to strengthen nuclear security and to build confidence, is still underused.

Data Highlights

  • Almost all of the 49 countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials and/or nuclear facilities—a total of 45 countries—publish their nuclear security regulations. In addition, of countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials and/or nuclear facilities 57% publish an annual nuclear security report.
  • Of countries with nuclear materials and/or facilities 67% have made a public declaration about their nuclear security progress in the past two years in conjunction with international, multilateral, or regional nuclear security conferences. Another 18% of countries made declarations previously but have not done so in the past two years.
  • Ten countries with nuclear materials—fewer than half—have made public declarations or reports about civilian nuclear materials since January 1, 2019. China has made declarations before that date. Eleven countries have never made declarations about their civilian materials. Norway and Australia are the only two countries that have made a declaration of civilian stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) using IAEA Information Circular (INFCIRC) 912.[1]
  • Only two of nine countries with nuclear weapons (the United Kingdom and the United States) have made declarations about their military stocks.
  • Of countries with nuclear materials and/or nuclear facilities, 65% have hosted an IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission, but only 33% have done so in the past five years. While 35% have never hosted an IPPAS mission or follow-up mission, ten countries have never had a nuclear security peer review of any type, from the IAEA or otherwise.[2]
  • Five countries—Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, and Sweden—have taken the extra confidence-building step of publishing the results of an IPPAS mission in the past five years.


Countries with nuclear materials and nuclear facilities should take more steps to build confidence in their nuclear security, including improving transparency around stocks of nuclear materials and increasing participation in peer reviews.

  • Countries should publish annual reports about nuclear security. This information provides useful information about how a country is implementing nuclear security, thereby building confidence in that country’s security practices.
  • Countries should regularly make public declarations about nuclear security progress at international, multilateral, or regional conferences on nuclear security (such as ICONS). Doing so demonstrates commitment to nuclear security progress and underscores the need for continuous improvement.
  • Transparency around material stocks, both civilian and military, increases confidence that materials are properly accounted for and enables governments and non-governmental organizations to track global inventories. Countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials should be transparent about their civilian stocks of nuclear materials. It is possible to share information about material stocks while also protecting sensitive information.
  • Countries that have subscribed to INFCIRC/912 on HEU minimization should fulfill their commitment to report on HEU stocks. Countries should use both INFCIRC/912 and INFCIRC/549[3] to report on their civilian HEU and separated plutonium stocks, and they should do so regularly.
  • Countries with military stocks should build confidence by providing aggregate data about those stocks without compromising sensitive national security information.
  • All countries with nuclear materials and/or facilities should host IPPAS missions every five years to build confidence and demonstrate a commitment to nuclear security and continuous improvement. In addition to IPPAS missions, countries should participate in bilateral or multilateral peer reviews as another means of continuously improving nuclear security and sharing best practices. Peer reviews are most useful when conducted regularly to follow up on the implementation of recommendations from previous peer reviews. All countries that have had peer reviews should host regular follow-up missions.
  • Countries should publish summaries of the results of peer reviews, to further build confidence that they are taking remedial actions to strengthen their security.
  • The ability of the IAEA to conduct more IPPAS missions is hampered by a lack of experts to participate. Experts on IPPAS missions come from member states (there are no IAEA reviewers). To support increased demand, countries should send their experts to receive IAEA training to serve on IPPAS mission teams and then encourage them to participate in those missions.

[1] Algeria, India, Israel, Italy, Morocco, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Slovakia, and Spain.

[2] INFCIRC/912—derived from the Norway-sponsored “gift basket” on HEU minimization at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit—includes a reporting mechanism for civilian HEU.

[3] INFCIRC/549 on plutonium management guidelines includes a reporting template for plutonium stocks, although some countries also use it to report on civilian HEU stocks.