North Korea is one of nine nuclear weapons states in the world but "seriously deficient" in terms of making radioactive materials secure, a U.S. think tank believes.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nongovernmental organization in the U.S., released a report of safekeeping of nuclear materials with the approach of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague in March.
The NTI evaluated countries based on an index it worked out together with the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
They analyzed 25 countries which possess more than 1 kg of nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
The North is mentioned as one of nine "nuclear weapons states" alongside the U.S., China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the U.K.
About 1,400 tons of highly enriched uranium and 500 tons of plutonium for military and civilian purposes are stored in various sites around the world. Ninety-five percent of the materials are in the hands of the nuclear weapons states, the report says.
The U.S. does not officially recognize North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.
The NTI ranked the North at the bottom, giving it just 30 points out of the total 100 for nuclear safeguards like "observance of international standards" and "domestic management and capacity."
"The lack of available information on North Korea's nuclear security -- it does not publish its nuclear security laws and regulations or other information -- meant that North Korea received the lowest possible score for several sub-indicators," it explained.
Due to the absence of an independent watchdog, it was hard to trust the data on nuclear materials published unilaterally by authorities, it points out.