In order to spend such large budgets on nuclear weapons, nine nations with nuclear weapons – US, UK, Russia, China, France, Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan – will spend far in excess of $1 Trillion while their peoples and the entire world could better use these funds for health, education, business development and environmental protection. For example, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, architect of Pakistan’s atomic programme acknowledged an opportunity cost of nuclear weapons programs, asserting that “if India builds the bomb, we will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
Supported by the Preventing Nuclear War Fund, Move the Nuclear Weapons Money is a global campaign to shift nuclear weapons budgets and investments to better purposes, such as economic development, ending poverty, protecting the climate, supporting renewable energy, creating jobs, and providing adequate healthcare, housing and education for all and simply fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
– President Dwight D. Eisenhower
The increasing tensions between nuclear powers has moved the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists this year to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight. These risks are exacerbated by the corporations manufacturing nuclear weapons, who have a vested interest in keeping the nuclear weapons budgets high. Such budgets divert resources from other areas of need. The United States alone is committed to spending over $1.2 trillion earmarked for nuclear weapons over the next ten years, while the other states with these horrific devices are either modernizing or expanding their arsenals or doing both.
This money could instead cover all the following:
Most of the nuclear weapons budget goes to companies which are awarded contracts to manufacture the nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles. These companies are few – there are only about 25 of them in the world – but are very rich and powerful. They actively lobby their legislatures and governments to continue spending on nuclear weapons. They thwart policies which could lead to more cooperative security arrangements amongst nations. They actually promote policies that increase tensions and conflicts between nuclear armed States. These policies undermine global stability and are now leading to a new nuclear arms race.
Each day over 14,000 nuclear weapons hang as swords over all our heads and we risk a nuclear explosion by design, accident or miscalculation. As long as there is economic benefit to maintaining this unacceptable risk, companies will advocate policies that keep it in place.
We can reverse the power of these companies by ensuring that we do not invest in them as long as they continue to manufacture nuclear weapons. More significantly, we can ensure that our states, cities, public funds, banks, universities, churches and other investors also divest from these companies.
The campaign has already had success. Four governments (Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland) at least 10 cities (mostly in the USA and Germany) and a number of banks have adopted policies ending investments of public funds in such companies.
The adoption in 2017 at the UN of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been met with continuing irresponsible policies and conduct by states with nuclear weapons. Rather than rational support, these states have evidenced an unwillingness to move to a safer world. We believe it is our duty to bring public awareness to the waste and dangers of current policies.
Ethical investment, also known as socially responsible investment (SRI), incorporates environmental and social factors when selecting investments. SRI includes:
Negative screening: Move the Nuclear Weapons Money encourages investors to consider divesting from other industries which threaten a peaceful and sustainable world, including fossil fuel, nuclear energy and conventional weapons industries. We are cooperating with divestment campaigns in these areas.
Positive screening: We also encourage investors to seek advice from ethical investment services to find an investment portfolio that features corporations that make a positive impact on building a sustainable future, including through application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Corporate engagement: We promote and support defense diversification initiatives that assist governments and corporations to relinquish the manufacture of nuclear weapons, while protecting jobs by replacing this with other economic activity.
It might be expected that an ethical investment portfolio would suffer from a lower performance (rate of return) than portfolios that are not bound by such considerations. However, experience has shown that this is not the case, and that ethical investment portfolios in general perform just as well as others.
From October 24-30, 2019 (United Nations Disarmament Week), we will run a public promotion action: Count the Nuclear Weapons Money. Over 7 days and 7 nights in New York we will count out $1 trillion, in 1 million mock notes each of $1 million value. This represents the nuclear weapons budget for the next 10 years of just one nation. We will ‘reallocate’ this money to areas of economic and social need including the Sustainable Development Goals.
Join Count the Nuclear Weapons Money. In fact, you can support us by volunteering to be a money counter and you can support us by donating to make sure we have enough money to “count the money.” The Count the Nuclear Weapons Money action is hosted by the World Future Council and supported by other cooperating organizations in the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money Campaign.
World Future Council and supporting organizations, such as Nobel Peace Prize recipient the International Peace Bureau and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), are working with parliamentarians in nuclear-armed States to shift budget priorities from nuclear weapons to better purposes, including sustainable economic development, climate protection, renewable energy, education, and health.
In the USA, PNND Co-President Ed Markey and Congressman Earl Blumenauer have introduced the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditure (SANE) Act, which calls for cutting the nuclear weapons budget by at least $200 billion over the next ten years and reallocating these funds to job creation, climate protection, renewable energies, health, education and economic development.
In the UK, PNND Council Member Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party) has committed a Labour government to defense diversification which would ensure alternative jobs and economic initiatives while phasing out the UK nuclear weapons system.
We have also raised this issue with the governments and legislatures of other nuclear-armed States including France, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. In addition, we are active at the United Nations and inter-parliamentary bodies such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to build multilateral support for moving the nuclear weapons money.
“Move the money means moving from a future of death and destruction beyond imagination to a future where life — education, health, human dignity, and sustainable economic development — flourishes. What do you want? What do you think God wants?”
– Jonathan Granoff
In May 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), which oversees the U.S. nuclear stockpile and production complex, released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Request for Weapons Activities, a request of $10.2 billion. This is nearly 11% above the FY 2017 Omnibus level to meet the requirements to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure. Furthermore, the agency forecasted that more than $300 billion will be spent to advance nuclear weapons programs over the next 25 years.
In October 2017, the Congressional Budget Office provided a detailed report on the Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, by Function, 2017 to 2046.
“The planned expenditure of more than $1 trillion to enhance our nuclear arsenal will not only increase the risk of nuclear disaster but fuel a global arms race and divert crucial resources needed to assure the well-being of the American people and people all over the world.”
– Resolution AJR-33 adopted by the California State Assembly, August 29, 2018
Challenges that threaten humanity require innovative responses and insights. The power of collaboration can ensure a prosperous future. Our experienced team with representatives from the cooperating organizations has the character, courage and commitment to solving the nature of the challenges we face today, and how to respond to and contain these threats.
Holger Güssefeld (Germany) is Special Advisor on Peace and Disarmament for the World Future Council, and is a is a special projects creator. He is the conceiver of the Count the Nuclear Weapons Money action, and was also the creator of the successful #3DNukeMissile project and the Tank of Bread (Bread not Bombs) project. Holger’s first disarmament project was in the mid-1980s, when he established and co-ordinated a campaign which saw 200,000 children from around the world write to US President Reagan and the USSR President Gorbachev and had a positive effect on nuclear disarmament talks. He now runs a company dealing with innovative product development where, for example, he has set up creative projects for the further education of prisoners.
Jonathan Granoff (USA), is President of the Global Security Institute; United Nations Representative of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates; Ambassador for Peace, Security and Nuclear Disarmament of the Parliament of the World’s Religions; former Adjunct Professor of International Law at Widener University School of Law; and Chair of the Task Force on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Advisor to the Committee on National Security of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association.
Marzhan Nurzhan (Kazakhstan) is PNND Coordinator for Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet countries). She is also Coordinator of the Abolition 2000 Youth Network and a member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Youth Group.
Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic) is part-time Program Assistant for PNND and UNFOLD ZERO. She is also a part-time student at the Anglo-American University in Prague.
Alyn Ware (New Zealand/Czech Republic) is PNND Global Coordinator and Co-founder of UNFOLD ZERO and Move the Nuclear Weapons Money. He is consultant for the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Chair of the World Future Council Peace and Disarmament Commission, Disarmament adviser for Religions for Peace and a co-founder of Abolition 2000, the global civil society network to eliminate nuclear weapons.
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“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded.”
– Ban Ki-moon