Organisations that invest in nuclear weapons producers are helping to fuel a new nuclear arms race. Nuclear weapons states are currently spending enormous sums of money “modernising” their arsenals, thus increasing the threat of nuclear war.
“Modernisation”, in the context of nuclear weapons, is generally a euphemism for “maintaining or expanding the ability to murder civilians using an indiscriminate weapon outlawed by international treaty”. In Britain, we are set to spend £205 billion renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system and Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she is prepared to personally “authorise a nuclear strike that can kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women and children”.
The Scottish organisations that invest in, or provide financing to, nuclear weapons producers are choosing to back war over peace. As arms trade expert Andrew Feinstein says, the economics of the arms industry “is very closely tied to instability and conflict”. This is illustrated by the recent history of geopolitical nuclear tensions involving the US, North Korea and Iran:
- August 2017: After reports emerged about new developments in North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, US President Donald Trump threatens the state with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”. The share prices of multinational arms giants, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, each hit record high
- September 2017: North Korea claims to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Raytheon’s share price hits another all-time high while shares in Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and other arms companies rise again.
- April 2018: The leaders of North and South Korea agree to formally end the Korean War and to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Arms stocks plummet, with the value of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Boeing shares dropping by over US $10 billion in one day.
- May 2018: President Trump announces US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, putting war with Iran back on the table. Arms shares rally again as analysts predict that “defence contractors with significant exposure to the Middle East are poised to gain immensely from international tensions that are flaring up”.
- June 2018: Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin shares fall after President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold a landmark summit in Singapore and agree to “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula”.
As this timeline demonstrates, “any possibility of greater conflict, especially involving a wide variety of countries, is very good news for the defense contractors”. Scottish organisations investing in nuclear weapons producers are choosing to buy into this warped logic: the greater the threat of nuclear war, the better the return will be on their investments.