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"Don't Bank on the Bomb" scores its first big U.S. victory

Posted by Martin Fleck on April 18, 2016

Mayor Denise Simmons of Cambridge, Massachusetts announced on April 2 that by unanimous City Council vote, Cambridge will divest its $1 billion pension fund from "any entities that are involved in or support the production or upgrading of nuclear weapons systems." Mayor Simmons announced divestment at an MIT symposium, Reducing the Dangers of Nuclear War, organized by The Future of Life Institute, where PSR Board Member and IPPNW Co-president Ira Helfand, MD delivered a plenary talk on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. "Not in our name!" said Mayor Simmons, provoking a standing ovation. "It's my hope that this will inspire other municipalities, companies and individuals to look at their investments and make similar moves." World famous MIT physicist Stephen Hawking added this comment: "If you want to slow the nuclear arms race, then put your money where your mouth is and don't bank on the bomb."

Bill Perry & Ira Helfand at MIT
William Perry, Former Defense Secretary, and Ira Helfand, MD, PSR Board Member and IPPNW Co-president, both presented at the MIT conference, Reducing the Dangers of Nuclear War on April 2

The Cambridge divestment is part of an international program called "Don't Bank on the Bomb" which is sponsored by International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the Dutch peace group, Pax, and supported by PSR, IPPNW, Peace Action, and many other disarmament groups. Massachusetts Peace Action spearheaded the Cambridge divestment campaign. According to Susi Snyder, who leads the Don't Bank on the Bomb campaign, "in Europe, over 50 large institutions have already limited their nuclear weapon investments, but this is our first big success in America."

Do you know of a municipality, university, pension fund, or hedge fund that should divest? Then here are some useful tools:

Don't Bank on the Bomb Website

MIT physicist Max Tegmark has created a handy web tool for Americans that want to make sure their mutual funds aren't connected to nuclear weapon producers.

Professor Tegmark is also featured in a snappy 3 minute, 14 second video arguing for divestment titled Why You Should Care About Nukes.

Max Tegmark & Stephen Hawking
MIT physicists Max Tegmark and Stephen Hawking

Do you have financial ties to any of these banks?

  • Bank of America
  • Citigroup
  • HSBC
  • Wells Fargo

These institutions are all in the Don't Bank on the Bomb "Hall of Shame." You can use this handy portal to click on your bank and send an email message to the bank asking them to divest

To investigate why and how nuclear weapons contractors keep a stranglehold on the congressional budget process, read PSR's report by Kathryn Deaton: The Persuasive Power of the Nuclear Weapons Industry: Following the Money Trail

Download the complete 56 page Don't Bank on the Bomb Report from Nov 2015.

For an example of divestment legislation, check out the City of Cambridge Policy Order

What sort of divestment has been happening in Europe?

As an example, in May, 2015, Financial Times reported that Nordea, the largest Norwegian fund company with 174 billion euros in assets, announced that it would divest from Boeing Aerospace because Boeing produces components for new Trident ballistic missile submarines.

"Sasja Beslik, head of corporate governance at Nordea said: 'We do not believe that the development of new nuclear weapons is needed and we do not want to contribute to the expansion of this business as the potential use of [nuclear arms] is extremely damaging to mankind.'

Nordea joins a number of large European investors that have blacklisted Boeing as a result of their 'responsible investment' policies.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, has blacklisted 10 companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons, including Boeing, since 2005."

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