'N-materials dangerously vulnerable to theft'
Despite progress on security, tons of nuclear material are "dangerously vulnerable" to theft by terrorists across the globe, a private group contends.
World leaders have failed to provide money promised for or pay strict attention to securing materials that could be used for a nuclear device or "dirty" bomb, the Nuclear Threat Initiative said on Thursday.
As leaders of the Group of Eight industrial powers, including President George W Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meet this weekend, reports from the group note that a fraction of the $20 billion those leaders pledged four years ago to secure nuclear materials worldwide has been spent.
"This threat is not being treated as an urgent, front-burner security threat by the United States, by Russia or by the world," said former Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman of the group that focuses on nuclear non-proliferation.
The organisation commissioned the two reports to assess the G-8's response to safeguarding nuclear materials. One was by the Managing the Atom Project at Harvard University; the other came from researchers at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
The Harvard report cited progress in securing the material in Russia. But security upgrades are not completed at nearly half of the sites and "only modest progress" has been made in consolidating the materials, the report said.
"In the rest of the world there is even less good news," the report said. "At many sites around the world weapons-usable nuclear material remains dangerously vulnerable to either outsider or insider theft.