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Time to Divest From Nuclear Weapons Industries

Don’t Bank on the Bomb (DBOTB) produces an annual report examining the financing of nuclear weapons manufacturers, edited by Susi Snyder, the Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for PAX, with the assistance of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). DBOTB identifies financial institutions seeking to profit from the private companies involved in the production, maintenance, and modernization of nuclear weapons arsenals. The reports prove that while a majority of nuclear weapon funding comes from taxpayers, private investors from nearly 30 countries contribute heavily as well. For example, the 2019 report found that 325 financial institutions invested over $900 billion in 28 private manufacturers associated with nuclear weapons.

Most importantly, DBOTB provides this information so that individuals may see the role that their own banks play in the nuclear weapons industry. By visiting the DBOTB  website, you can see each institution’s contributions, including the quantity, type of investments (loans, shareholding, bondholding, etc.), and recipients of the funding. Banks are split into three sections depending on their involvement in nuclear weapons: Hall of Fame, Runners-up, and Hall of Shame. The Hall of Fame includes the 36 financial institutions that have implemented comprehensive policies preventing investments in nuclear weapon producers. The Runners-up contains the 41 financial institutions who have a policy in place but whose policy contains one or more loopholes that allow for nuclear weapon investment. Lastly, the Hall of Shame includes the 325 institutions that invest heavily in nuclear weapons. The 2019 report found that while the number of investors is trending downwards, the amount of money invested continues to increase: 2019 investments increased by 42% from 2018.

Take Action: DBOTB provides easy-to-use petitions and pre-written tweets, Facebook posts, and letters to institutions. Here is just one example. Father John Heagle of the Gospel Nonviolence working group for the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP), working with Pax Christi, invited PSR to sign onto a nuclear divestment letter addressed to PNC Financial Services. PNC became the target of this petition drive  because of its decision to increase investment in nuclear weapons producers. PNC’s investments grew from $616 million in 2018 to over $1 billion in 2019, a 40% increase. The beneficiaries of such investments include some of the most powerful names in the nuclear weapon industry. PNC invested $400 million in General Dynamics, which has a number of contracts for key components in the UK & US Trident II ballistic missile systems. PNC gave $304 million to BWX Technologies after it received a new contract for Trident II components for the US and UK navies with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Aecom is involved in research, design, development, and production of nuclear weapons at the Livermore Lab; PNC invested $63 million. Other beneficiaries include large manufacturers like Huntington Ingalls Industries and Northrup Grumman.  If you bank with PNC or are a PNC shareholder, please get in touch with Rev. Heagle at johnheagle48@gmail.com.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb has long worked to urge city councils, universities, and other institutions to commit to divesting from nuclear weapons and to stress the need for socially responsible investments. In early 2016, DBOTB activists pressed Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council members to divest in nuclear weapons. The Council went on to unanimously vote to adopt a resolution proposing to divest the city’s investments from corporations and banks involved in nuclear weapon production. Similarly, in April, 2018, at the urging of PSR board member Bob Dodge, MD, the Ojai, California, City Council unanimously adopted a resolution with the intention to pull investments from any “businesses, funds, or financial services institutions that knowingly engage in work related to the production, transportation, storage, processing, use, or disposal of nuclear weapons.” Before the pandemic hit, the New York City Council began consideration of divesting the city’s enormous pension plans. These initiatives can serve as inspiration for  other communities, universities, and institutions to follow suit, helping to further stigmatize nuclear weapons.

PSR invites you to visit Don’t Bank on the Bomb’s website and consider taking action by signing one of the website’s petitions, writing to your institution’s leadership, or posting to social media. If you are involved with a university, consider a divestment campaign with the trustees. Each investment represents a choice and provides an opportunity to contribute to the global good. Take action today to be sure your money is not associated with the production of nuclear weapons and to advocate for socially responsible investments.