Trump's Threat of Nuclear War With North Korea Is Making a Fortune for 10 US Companies
March 23, 2018
Cristina Maza / Newsweek & Mark Sullivan / Fast Company
As President Donald Trump threatens to launch a nuclear war with North Korea, a small handful of private companies is benefiting from the heightened threat. A new report from ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) and PAX is calling out the 20 biggest nuclear-weapons financiers, underscoring the degree to which banks and contractors have been quietly funding the recent resurgence in the global arms race. Disturbingly, investment in nuclear weapons increased by $81 billion in 2017.
Trump's Threat of Nuclear War With North Korea
Is Making a Lot of Money for These Weapons Companies
Cristina Maza / Newsweek
(March 8, 2018) -- As President Donald Trump threatens to launch a nuclear war with North Korea, a small handful of private companies is benefiting from the heightened threat, according to a March report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which unveiled information about the secretive nuclear weapons industry.
In 2017, investors from around the world increased the amount of money they poured into nuclear weapons by about $81 billion, bringing the total amount of investment up to $525 billion. The top three financial institutions investing in nuclear arms -- Blackrock, Capital Group and Vanguard -- are all based in the US and have a combined investment in the nuclear weapons industry of over $110 billion, according to the report.
Researchers also discovered that there are just 20 private companies around the world that are benefiting the most from this boost in investment. Companies like Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman are among the biggest beneficiaries of this influx of resources. Researchers say the companies are making money due to the Trump administration's decision to revamp the country's nuclear arsenal instead of decreasing the number of nuclear weapons in the world.
"Last summer, Trump talked about unleashing fire and fury [on North Korea], and that was around the beginning of August, around the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Two weeks later, there were a couple of contracts that were put into place. One was for the long-range standoff missile. Lockheed Martin got the contract," Susi Snyder, one of the report's lead authors, told Newsweek.
"With a lot of investors, when they see the award of a government contract like this, it's a great time for someone to invest in that company. People want to make money," she continued.
Snyder said the government contracts and increased private investment create a vicious cycle that allows these companies to continue to grow, to bid on more lucrative government contracts and consequently to build more dangerous weapons.
The long-range standoff missile, which Lockheed Martin is now developing, is especially dangerous because it can carry a conventional weapon or a nuclear warhead.
This could lead to catastrophe if an enemy country sees this missile coming and, in a moment of uncertainty, decides to respond with a nuclear attack, experts say. The Pentagon gave Lockheed Martin and the company Raytheon $900 million each to work on the missile over the next five years.
In nuclear-armed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and France, the government often hires private companies to build and maintain the nation's nuclear arsenal. In other countries with nuclear weapons, such as Russia, China, and Pakistan, government agencies are in charge of the country's nuclear arms.
These Companies Are Financing
The Return Of Nuclear Terror
With saber-rattling back in style,
it's a profitable time to invest in nukes.
"They are capitalizing on chaos," says ICAN
Mark Sullivan / Fast Company
(March 7, 2018) -- A new report from ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) and PAX is calling out the 20 biggest nuclear-weapons financiers, underscoring the degree to which banks and contractors have been quietly funding the recent resurgence in the global arms race. Disturbingly, the research shows, investment in nuclear weapons increased by $81 billion in 2017.
Since January 2014, some 329 financial institutions from around the world invested $525 billion in 20 companies that produce, maintain, or modernize nuclear weapons. And $110 billion of it came from just three US companies: BlackRock, Vanguard, and Capital Group.
Here's the full Top 10:
* BlackRock -- $38.4B
* Capital Group -- $36.7B
* Vanguard -- $35.3B
* State Street -- $33.4B
* JPMorgan Chase -- $29.7B
* Bank of America -- $25.9B
* Citigroup -- $16.5B
* Evercore -- $13.7B
* Wells Fargo -- $13.5B
* Goldman Sachs -- $10.8B
"They are capitalizing on chaos," Beatrice Fihn, ICAN's executive director, told me. "We have talked to some of them, and they are not proud to share information on it."
Fihn says their reasons for investing in weapons of mass destruction are what you might expect. They're using whatever legal means available to make returns on their clients' money. "But there are limits to these things," she adds. "You don't see these institutions investing in sarin gas or child labor just because it makes you money."
Unbelievably, it's a good time to invest in nuclear weapons, because nuclear saber-rattling has come back in style. "A lot of people thought this issue was solved at the end of the Cold War," Fihn said, "but the risk that nuclear weapons will be used is actually growing."
"We have some world leaders that are going in the wrong direction," she said, obviously referring to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
And old Cold War enemies, the United States and Russia, are both now talking loudly about the strength of their nuclear arsenals and the desire to increase them.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board recently set the so-called Doomsday Clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, meaning the world is at greater risk of nuclear conflagration than it was during the Cold War's hottest moments.
Thankfully, there are signs that nukes won't be a hot investment opportunity forever. Since the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and bailout, people are more aware of where financial institutions are investing their money. Some may object to their dollars being invested in technology that could quickly kill off the human species.
And we live in a world that's very different, politically speaking, than the one that was gripped by the Cold War.
"We have a new generation of leaders from around the world who grew up after the Cold War, and nuclear weapons do not fit with the way they see the world," Bihn said. "There are no longer two power blocks threatening each other. So they are going to start questioning why the investment in nuclear weapons is rising, and why these institutions are profiting from it."
A majority of the world's nations congregated (at ICAN's invitation) at the United Nations last year, where they agreed on a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The agreement will become binding law when 50 nations have signed it. Not surprisingly, the United States, the UK, Israel, Russia, and North Korea did not participate.
ICAN says that since the adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 30 companies have ceased investing in nuclear weapons. And two of the top five largest pension funds in the world -- Norway's Government Pension Fund and the Dutch pension fund ABP -- are divesting from companies involved in the production or upkeep of nuclear weapons.
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