India was ranked a lowly 28 among 32 countries in terms of nuclear security by experts in a recent survey.
The 32 nations with materials that can fuel atom bombs are typically mum on security.
Behind the scenes, atomic insiders have long told horror stories of risky practices and security flaws that might let the crucial ingredients for nuclear weapons fall into wrong hands.
The US is ranked 13. Last place goes to North Korea, a police state that the report finds to be seriously deficient on issues of atomic security, and next-to-last to Pakistan.
The ranking is a joint endeavour of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private advocacy group in Washington, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, a company in London that does risk analyses. Their goals are to stir debate on how to promote security and to encourage governments to strengthen protections against atomic terrorism.
“We’ll never get this job done if we continue to operate behind closed doors,” Deepti Choubey, senior director at NTI, said.
For each country, the study looked at 18 factors, including known quantities of nuclear materials, physical protections, accounting methods and transportation security as well as larger societal factors like political stability and corruption.