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“Don’t Bank on the Bomb” Report criticises banks for investing in nuclear weapons

A 1971 file photo of a nuclear bomb detonated at the Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia

A nuclear bomb detonated by the French government in a test in 1971 at the Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia

(Keystone)

Anti-nuclear groups based in Switzerland and the Netherlands claim over 300 banks, pension funds and other financial institutions – including the Swiss bank Credit Suisse – last year invested over half a trillion dollars in nuclear weapon producing companies – a jump of $81 billion in one year. 

The 2018 Don’t Bank on the Bomb report external linkpublished on Wednesday lists 329 banks, insurance companies, pension funds and asset managers from 24 countries that invested a total of $525 billion (CHF493 billion) in the top 20 biggest nuclear weapons producers based in France, India, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of this total, $110 billion came from BlackRock, Vanguard and Capital Group. 

“A new nuclear arms race has moved the Doomsday Clock closer to Armageddon, but it has also started a new nuclear gold rush for those wanting to cash in on mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

+ Swiss initiative to ban the financing of companies that produce war materiel,

The report noted a $81 billion increase in the total amount invested in nuclear weapons worldwide in 2017 compared to 2016, but said there were 10% fewer investors in such bombs, and an increase in financial institutions comprehensively prohibiting any investment.

The number of Swiss financial institutions listed in the report has fallen from seven in 2014 to one this year: Credit Suisse. The authors commended the bank for adopting a public policy on nuclear weapons in line with the provisions of the Swiss War Materials Act.

The bank publicly states external linkthat it “will not directly finance the development, manufacture and acquisition of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions”.

However, the report said Credit Suisse should expand on its current interpretation of this law and “exclude the financing of nuclear weapon producing companies as a whole, instead of only the activities related to nuclear weapons”. The NGOs also urged Credit Suisse to apply its policy to “all of its financial products, including assets managed”.  

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