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The new report "names those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons." (Photo: ippnw Deutschland/flickr/cc)

As Trump Threats Stir Global Arms Race, New Report Details the Nuclear War Profiteers

"If you have been wondering who benefits from Donald Trump's threats of nuclear war, this report has that answer."

Andrea Germanos

A new report offers a comprehensive look at who's profiting from the new nuclear arms race.

"If you have been wondering who benefits from Donald Trump's threats of nuclear war, this report has that answer," said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

ICAN, along with Netherlands-based peace group Pax, released the report, entitled "Don't Bank on the Bomb," on Wednesday. It shows that 329 financial institutions in 24 countries invested $525 billion into the top 20 companies involved in the production, maintenance, and modernization of nuclear weapons from January 2014 through October 2017.

"When the world is closer to nuclear war than ever, we need to make sure that no one should profit from this terror."
—Beatrice Fihn, ICAN
The good news is that the number of investors marks 30 fewer institutions than in last year's report. Yet despite the shorter list, the institutions are investing about $81 billion more in these companies that make weapons of mass destruction. The increased funds, added with the fact that the nuclear-armed states are "modernizing" their arsenals as well as bellicose rhetoric from world leaders like Trump, make clear the need for the global public to campaign for divestment, the groups argue.

The report's "Hall of Shame" shows the top 10 financial institutions with the biggest investments in nuclear weapons manufacturing—all U.S. firms—are: BlackRock, Capital Group, Vanguard, State Street, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Evercore, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs.

These institutions accounted for nearly half ($253 billion) of the total investments made.

The top three nuclear weapons producers, by investments, are also all based in the U.S.: Boeing, Honeywell International, and Lockheed Martin.

Those corporations, and the 17 others that are most heavily involved in nuclear weapons making, stated Fihn, "are the companies that stand to profit from indiscriminate mass murder of civilians. We grow less safe while they cash in on chaos by banking on Armageddon."

The report offers more than doom-and-gloom, however, as it describes the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as being a catalyst for positive change. Since its adoption last year, ABP, the fifth largest pension fund, and the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, globally the 2nd largest pension fund, announced they would no longer put their assets into nuclear weapons-making companies. 

Another sign of hope, the report states, are the 22 institutions listed on the "Hall of Fame" that have policies preventing investments in nuclear weapon producers. The list includes for the first time a U.S.-based institution called Green Century, a sustainability-geared investment firm that has roughly $525 million in assets under management. All the other hall-of-famers are based in Europe.

According to report author Susi Snyder, the "Nuclear Ban Treaty has sparked momentum towards divestment, shown by 10 percent fewer investors in nuclear weapon producers, and an increase in financial institutions comprehensively prohibiting any investment. Investments are not neutral, these companies should be congratulated for standing on the side of humanity."

The big picture from all the data, the report says, is this: "By divesting from nuclear weapon producers, we can make it harder for those that profit from weapons of mass destruction and encourage them to cut the production of nuclear weapons from their business strategies. Producing, possessing, and modernizing nuclear weapons is not something to be proud of and 'Don't Bank on the Bomb' names those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons, our job is to shame them."

The report urges the public to take action, whether by just raising public awareness of financial instituitions' role in abetting nuclear arms production or by organizing protests.

"When the world is closer to nuclear war than ever, " Fihn writes, "we need to make sure that no one should profit from this terror."


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