New “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” published

DBotB2024 cover

Untentable Investments, the newest edition of the essential divestment guide, Don’t Bank on the Bomb, is out today. The report, whose full title is “Untenable Investments: Nuclear weapon producer and their financiers”, is a joint publication of PAX and ICAN. As shown in the report, between January 2021 and August 2023, 287 financial institutions had significant financing or investment relations with nuclear weapon producers, down from 306 institutions in previously published results.

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The report examines in detail the involvement of 24 companies in the production, maintenance or modernization of nuclear weapons. These companies contribute to the nuclear arsenals of China, France, India, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The financial institutions with significant financing or investment relationships with one or more of the 24 nuclear weapon producers are also listed. Together, investors held $477 billion in shares and bonds in these companies, $343 billion was provided in loans and underwriting.

The 24 companies fully profiled in the report are involved in activities that are outlawed under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force in 2021. More than $336 billion in contracts for such activities were identified, though the true number is likely much higher since many companies do not publish contract details. Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are the biggest nuclear weapons profiteers, with outstanding contracts with a potential value of at least $21.2 billion and $23.7 billion respectively, not including the consortium and joint venture revenues. BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and RTX also hold multi-billion-dollar contracts for nuclear weapon production and/or sustainment.

The report’s findings saw a $15.7 billion increase in share and bond holding values from the 2022 “Risky Returns’’ report. There was also a $57.1 growth in loans and underwriting. Nevertheless, while the overall financing of nuclear weapon producers increased, the number of investors continues to drop. Despite government encouragement to invest more in arms producers, many financial institutions have stuck to their policy of excluding these companies, often based on ethical concerns over their involvement in production of weapons of mass destruction.

For companies that build the key components needed to maintain and expand countries’ nuclear arsenals, access to private funding is crucial. As such, the banks, pension funds, asset managers and other financiers that continue to invest in or grant credit to these companies allow for the production of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons to proceed. By divesting from their business relationships with these companies, financial institutions can reduce available capital for nuclear weapon related activities and thereby be instrumental in supporting the fulfilment of the TPNW’s objectives

The human rights and environmental risks attached to nuclear weapons are severe and irremediable. Financial institutions are uniquely placed to support efforts that seek to achieve a world free of the nuclear threat.

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