$72.6 Billion Squandered on Nuclear Weapons
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
(June 7, 2021) — During a global pandemic, the 9 nuclear-armed states prioritized their weapons of mass destruction with a major increase in their already massive spending. ICAN’s new report “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” exposes one year of the cycle of spending on nuclear weapons from countries to defence contractors to lobbyists and think tanks and back again.
In 2020, the report estimates that nine countries spent $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons, $27.7 billion of which went to a dozen defence contractors to build nuclear weapons. Those contractors then spent $117 million lobbying policy makers and up to $10 million funding think tanks writing about nuclear weapons to ensure they can continue to line their pockets with nuclear weapon contracts for years to come.
To Hell with the Risk: The Arms Industry Is Banking on the Bomb
$72.6 billion. That’s how much the nine nuclear-armed states spent on their nuclear weapons in 2020 during the worst pandemic in a century and when the treaty banning nuclear weapons became law, according to a new ICAN report. It’s an inflation-adjusted increase of $1.4 billion from last year.
But that’s not all. The report, “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending,” dug through thousands of pages of contracts and annual reports to bring you the full picture of nuclear weapons spending. Because it’s not just countries’ governments that are responsible for wasting resources on weapons of mass destruction. Companies, lobbyists and think tanks are all complicit in 2020 spending on nuclear weapons.
In 2020, the report finds that less than a dozen companies got $27.7 billion contracts to work on nuclear weapons. Those companies then turned around and spent $117 million lobbying decision makers to spend more money on defense. And they also spent upwards of $10 million funding most of the major think tanks that research and write about policy solutions about nuclear weapons.
This spending is immoral and contrary to international law. Every actor in the circle is complicit. It’s time to speak up. Tell your country to stop spending money on nuclear weapons and join the TPNW. Protest a company that’s building these weapons near you. Ask think tanks to stop accepting money from the companies building nuclear weapons.
Or help us spread the word. We made a one-minute video exposing this cycle, which we the world (and your friends and family) must see. Together, we can stop the cycle.
Alicia Sanders-Zakre is the Policy and Research Coordinator at ICAN.
Complicit: Nuclear Weapons Spending Increased by $1.4 Billion in 2020
$72.6 billion is how much nine nuclear-armed countries spent on their nuclear weapons as the pandemic spread in 2020 and a global treaty banning nuclear weapons took full effect. The report “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” details the spending of these nine countries on their arsenals, the companies that profited, and the lobbyists hired to keep nuclear weapons in business.
This amounts to $137,666 every minute, and (after adjusting for inflation) represents an increase of $1.4 billion from last year.
The US spent three times more than the next in line — a whopping $37.4 billion. China was the only other country crossing the ten billion mark, spending $10.1 billion. Russia had the third-highest spending at $8 billion — though the UK’s $6.2 billion and the French $5.7 billion weren’t so far behind. India, Israel, Pakistan also each spent over a billion on their arsenals, while North Korea spent $667 million.
Why would these countries spend so much, in the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century? The report shows that it’s not security interests, or even a resumption of so-called great power competition driving this increased spending, it’s business.
After digging through thousands of contracts, annual reports and lobby disclosures, the report shows a dozen companies got $27.7 billion in new and modified contracts to work on nuclear weapons. Those companies then turned around and spent $117 million lobbying decision makers to spend more money on defense. And they also spent upwards of $10 million funding most of the major think tanks that research and write about policy solutions about nuclear weapons.
It is time to expose this shady cycle and end this outrageous waste of public funds on weapons of mass destruction. Help us spread the word.
Despite Pandemic, Global Spending on Nukes Swelled $1.4 Billion in 2020
The US accounted for more than half of the total spending on nuclear weapons for 2020
(June 7, 2021) — Despite the pandemic and the damage lockdowns did to the world’s economy, global spending on nuclear weapons rose by $1.4 billion in 2020, with the US accounting for more than half of the total spending on nukes for the year.
According to a report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the world’s nine nuclear-armed states spent $72.6 billion on such weapons in 2020, up from $71.2 billion in 2019. Out of the $72.6 billion, the US spent $37.4 billion, more than half of the total.
According to ICAN, the second-highest spender was China. ICAN estimated Beijing spent $10.1 billion on nuclear weapons in 2020. In third was Russia, at $8 billion, followed by the UK ($6.2 billion), France ($5.7 billion), India ($2.48 billion), Israel ($1.1 billion), Pakistan ($1 billion), and North Korea ($667 million).
ICAN works to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), an international treaty that calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and, ultimately, the elimination of such arms. The TPNW technically came into force in January of this year, but nuclear-armed states refuse to abide by it.
The report reads: “Nuclear-armed states spent an obscene amount of
money on illegal weapons of mass destruction in 2020, while the majority of the world’s countries support a global nuclear weapons ban.”
The report details how much money US and other arms companies made on nuclear weapons compared to how much they spent on lobbying efforts. For example, the US company Northrop Grumman was awarded $13.7 billion just for nuclear weapons contracts. The company spent $13.3 million for lobbying efforts in Washington and spent $2 million funding think tanks, a small investment to be awarded so many billions in government contracts.
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