Don’t Bank on the Bomb

New report reveals which banks are funding nuclear weapons 

On March 7th, the peace organisation PAX launched its latest 'Don’t Bank On the Bomb' report, reviewing the financing of the nuclear weapons industry by global financial institutions. The report names and shames those that are making a profit from producing nuclear weapons. 

Corporate investments in nuclear weapons

The report found that 329 financial institutions had invested $525 billion in the top 20 nuclear weapons producers such as, BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Serco, between January 2014 and October 2017. 

The financing provided by the institutions could be loans, investment banking or ownership, of more than 0.5% of the shares of at least one of the producing companies.

Hall of Fame

22 institutions were listed in the Hall of Fame for having an all-inclusive policy that excluded all types of investments in nuclear weapons companies (withdrawing past investments and avoiding future investments).

Of these, two banks operating in the UK, Triodos and The Co-operative Bank, appeared in the Hall of Fame. 

Runners-up

41 financial institutions were listed as ‘runners-up’ because they have publicly available policies that exclude nuclear weapon producers from their investments but their policies contain loopholes that still allow for some investments.

They have all expressed a shared understanding that involvement in nuclear weapons production is at least controversial. However, the loopholes have allowed some sizeable investments. Indeed, Barclays is one of the biggest investors in Europe.

The runners-up include 4 institutions operating in the UK:

Bank $ millions
Barclays 7911
Royal Bank of Scotland 3657
Aegon 228
Danske Bank 226

(ranked by total finance made available to nuclear weapons companies)

Hall of Shame 

288 institutions were listed by PAX in the Hall of Shame for not having any policies prohibiting investments in nuclear weapons.

22 of these institutions operated in the UK:

Bank $ millions
Blackrock (owns 5% Prudential) 38,381
Capital Group (owns 10% Prudential) 36,739
Citigroup (Citibank) 16,489
AXA 3804
Janus Henderson 3505
HSBC 3302
Lloyds Banking Group 2686
Santander 1962
Old Mutual 1686
ICICI Bank 1551
AIG Group (Chartis) 1298
Allianz 1035
Legal & General 933
Prudential 674
BMO Financial (F&C Fund) 548
Fidelity International 387
Standard Life Aberdeen 302
Aviva 252
Jupiter Fund Management 160
Munich Re (Great Lakes) 148
Banco de Sabadell (TSB) 56
Bank of Ireland (Post Office) 35
Covea 9

(ranked by total finance made available to nuclear weapons companies)

In July 2017, more than two-thirds of UN Members adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Needless to say the nine nuclear-armed nations – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – did not support the treaty.

Now, not only are nuclear weapons indiscriminate, inhumane and immoral, they are prohibited by international treaty.

As the Treaty moves towards entry into force, PAX, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN), maintain that now is the time to prevent any association with nuclear weapon production, divest if investments exist, and establish solid policies preventing any future investment. 

Since the adoption of the nuclear ban treaty, two of the five largest pension funds in the world announced changes in their relationships with nuclear weapon producers. ABP, the fifth largest pension fund, announced that it will make sure that nuclear weapon producers no longer have access to their $500 billion asset pool (€405 billion).

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund (globally the 2nd largest pension fund) will also make sure that another $1,037 billion (€840 billion) is kept out of nuclear weapon producer hands.

According to PAX:

When financial institutions invest in companies associated with nuclear weapon production, they provide the financing to maintain, test, and modernise nuclear weapons.

In short: no money means no production. The financial sector has a role to play in ending nuclear weapons, and this report is a way to monitor progress and inspire action. Financial institutions have a choice, either to contribute to the end of nuclear weapons, or to provide the financing that will allow nuclear weapons to end us.

Three of the 20 nuclear weapons producing companies

Serco (UK) is part the joint venture AWE-ML, which runs the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, which is responsible for manufacturing and maintaining Trident nuclear warheads for the UK arsenal, as well as developing the new nuclear warhead, Mark4A. 

BAE Systems (UK) is involved in the nuclear weapons programmes of France, the UK and the US. It produces key components for Trident II (D5) missiles, for the US and UK nuclear arsenals. It also produces US Minuteman III Intercontnental Ballistc Missile (ICBM) systems. BAE Systems is also part of the MBDA joint venture and provides nuclear armed air-to-surface missiles for France. 

Boeing (USA) is contracted to help keep the Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles operational in the US nuclear arsenal until 2030. Boeing will also be producing the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent system for the US, designed to replace the Minuteman III system. Boeing is also producing the guided tail kit for the new B61-12 US nuclear gravity bomb (the ones meant to be deployed to Europe). In additon, Boeing also has contracts for key components for US and UK Trident II (D5) nuclear weapons.

Free Issue

Sign up now to our email newsletter for a free digital copy of Ethical Consumer magazine.

Sign up now for our email newsletter