While the US non-proliferation watchdog Nuclear Threat Initiative has found that progress on global security has slowed significantly across the globe, Pakistan has been ranked as the most improved country in its overall score after it adopted “new on-site physical protection and cyber security regulations and improving insider threat protection measures”.
Pakistan’s score improvement for regulatory measures is the second largest improvement for regulations in the Index since 2012, according to the report, which has ranked Australia first for the fifth time with the best nuclear security conditions among the 22 countries with weapons grade nuclear materials.
Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed welcomed the report.
We welcome that @NTI_WMD categorizes Pakistan as most improved country for nuclear security measures in its Nuclear Security Index 2020. Pakistan’s improvement is also the second largest ever by a country since the #NTIIndex was launched in 2012.
— Asad M. Khan (@asadmk17) July 22, 2020
The ranking comes amid reports which have suggested that Pakistan added to its nuclear arsenal in 2019. Pakistan possessed an estimated of 150-160 warheads in January 2019 and that has risen to 160 by January 2020, as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2020.
Pakistan claims to have established independent regulatory bodies with adequate legal authority to fulfil their assigned nuclear security responsibilities, including the National Command Authority (NCA), Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) and Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV).
Pakistan Nuclear Security Regime, a report on country’s nuclear safety mechanisms, released at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) third International Conference on Nuclear Security, says that Pakistan has deployed modern technological solutions, such as intrusion detection systems, access control systems, delay barriers and search systems and a central alarm station.
In the past, Pakistan has been accused of global nuclear proliferation. Abdul Qadeer Khan, described as the architect of the nuclear weapons programme in Pakistan that tested its first atomic bomb in 1998, was an important part of the nuclear black market and had help from people in many different countries, according to nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Pakistan's nuclear proliferation episodes include deals with Iran and North Korea.