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We Are the Bomb: Opaque Financial Flows and Unwitting Involvement in Nuclear Armament

By Robin Jaspert

A lack of control of often inscrutable capital flows enables capital management companies to invest in nuclear armaments companies, usually without the depositor being aware of this. The campaign "Don’t bank on the bomb” run by the organization ICAN is committed to divestment from nuclear weapons and aims to make financial flows of international nuclear armaments companies transparent.

With the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investments (UNPRI), there are principles for responsible capital investments that contain so-called ESG criteria (Environment, Social, Governance), but companies can only be encouraged to comply with these principles. A closer look reveals that capital flows from German companies to armaments companies too, which are sometimes involved in nuclear armaments projects. For example, policyholders or bank customers often do not know that they indirectly support nuclear armament through their deposits.

The most suitable route to an international ban on nuclear weapons remains the political route on which a considerable distance has already been covered by the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This does not go unnoticed even by international financial market players who, particularly after the 2007/2008 crisis, pay particular attention to image cultivation and may therefore refrain from financing nuclear armaments. How­ever, this alone will hardly be enough. In order to make the financing of nuclear armaments companies unattractive, individual, social and structural measures must interlock, because the nuclear armaments industry will not voluntarily stop production; just as little as the financial sector will independently suspend investments in the lucrative weapons of mass destruction sector.

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