For those of us still merry from festive celebrations, early 2020 brought a sobering reminder of the urgency with which we must address the threat posed by nuclear weapons.
Only three days into the New Year, World War III was trending on Twitter after the US assassinated Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, via a drone strike in Iraq. It was the latest – and by far the most serious – escalation of tensions between the two nations that began when the US announced its intention to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal) in 2018.
The attack raised fears of war between the two nations that experts warned could see US use of nuclear weapons against Iranian forces on the battlefield, a scenario that the US has already actively considered. War games that took place just before the US Presidential Election of 2016 simulated a US tactical nuclear strike on Iranian troops. The subsequent election to the Presidency of an unstable egomaniac who clearly gets a thrill out of threatening entire nations with nuclear annihilation, along with the US’s recent deployment of new, smaller “more useable”, low yield nuclear weapons, has heightened the risk that such “games” will become reality.
The development of new tactical nuclear weapons is just one element of a new global nuclear arms race that is increasing the threat of nuclear war and bringing us ever closer to doomsday. All nine nuclear weapons states are spending vast sums of money “modernising” their nuclear arsenals and developing new nuclear weapons.
While most Scots oppose nuclear weapons, many of us may be surprised to learn that we are inadvertently enabling this arms race through our savings and our pensions. Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland’s research has shown that Scottish banks and public pension funds have at least £6 billion invested in companies that make nuclear weapons. Of that total, nearly £2 billion is invested in four companies that are arguably the most heavily involved in the new nuclear arms race: BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman:
*This column covers investments in four companies: BAE Systems,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
Each of these companies is involved in the development of new types of nuclear weapons and each benefited from a surge in the number of missile contracts awarded by the US following its decision to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in 2018.
If you’re concerned about deteriorating international relations and the risk posed by nuclear weapons, don’t feel powerless. Everyone can support international efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament by encouraging financial institutions to divest from the companies that make nuclear weapons:
- Check whether your bank has a comprehensive policy prohibiting investment in nuclear weapons: see the 2019 Don’t Bank on the Bomb Report’s Hall of Fame. If it doesn’t, write to your bank to explain why it should adopt such a policy and end its financial relationship with nuclear weapons producers: click here for tips on engaging with banks and a link to our template letter.
- Write to your local councillors asking them to support our model resolution on nuclear weapons divestment: visit our campaign page for details. Four Scottish local authorities have passed the resolution already!
- Write to your MSP asking them to support divestment of their pension fund from key Trident contractor, Rolls Royce.
If everyone in Scotland who opposes nuclear weapons took these simple steps, financial institutions would be persuaded to change their investment policies. Widespread divestment from nuclear weapons producers would make hard for those companies to access the financing that they need, creating a powerful incentive for them to cease production altogether.