Skip to main content

Bank investments in nuclear weapons

In January 2022, PAX, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), launched its latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report Don'treviewing the financing of the nuclear weapons industry by global financial institutions.

The report names and shames those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons.

Don't bank on the bomb

The number of financial institutions that have comprehensive policies to exclude investments in nuclear weapons is growing, finds the most recent Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, ‘Rejecting Risk’, released in January 2022.

The report, which is published by Pax, the largest peace organisation in the Netherlands, examines the role of private companies and their financiers involved in the production of nuclear weapons. It profiles financial institutions that had some form of policy to restrict investments in the companies involved in the manufacture, development, deployment, stockpiling, testing, or use of nuclear weapons.

This year’s report profiled 101 financial institutions with nuclear exclusions policies, an increase of 24 since 2019. The increase has been driven in large part by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), with many institutions citing this as justification.

The TPNW was agreed in 2017 and came into force on 22 January 2021, making it illegal under international law to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The treaty was adopted by two-thirds of UN member states, but wasn’t signed by any of the world’s nuclear powers, meaning it does not apply to them directly, though it does put pressure on them, including pressuring their financial institutions to address the issue.

Which banks exclude nuclear weapons?

The report categorised institutions into those that had fully comprehensive policies (59 institutions) and those that had ‘imperfect policies’ (42 institutions) which contained one or more loopholes – for example, the policy only applied to some of an institution's policies and products.

Institutions that had comprehensive nuclear weapons exclusions policies included the following:

Which banks have policies which may include financing nuclear weapons?

Those that had imperfect policies included:

Financial institutions investing in nuclear weapons

Don’t Bank on the Bomb released another report in 2021 looking at “those with vested interests to keep a nuclear arms race going” – including investors.

The 2021 report “Perilous Profiteering: The companies building nuclear arsenals and their financial backers” is a joint publication of ICAN and its partner PAX. The report details how 338 financial institutions made $685 billion available to 25 nuclear weapon producing companies from China, France, India, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The financial institutions included several in our guides to investment funds, ISAs and banks including AXA, Jupiter Fund Management, JP Morgan Chase - our Brand to Avoid in the Stocks and Shares ISAs guide, and high-street bank Lloyds.

Take action

If you would prefer not to be supporting nuclear weapons via your finances and insurance, there are a number of actions you can take:

  • Read the Rejecting Risk report to see if your banks and insurance companies are financing nuclear weapons
  • Check our guides to different financial products to find ethical alternatives - see the links below
  • Consider switching your banks and insurance to more ethical providers
  • Let your existing provider know why you are leaving them - there are some useful suggestions for personal divestment on the Don't Bank on the Bomb website