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On Wednesday 20 September, the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons officially opened for signature and over 50 countries signed. The US was not one of the signers, but US advocates for the Treaty have succeeded in making the first US bank annouce that it will not invest in nuclear weapons production.
New York-based Amalgamated Bank used the day of the signature of the Treaty to publish its investment policy around weapons. The bank’s vice-President Robert Mante wrote on its website how Amalgamated doesn’t invest in weapons. This is the first time Amalgamated has made public its investment position around weapons – including nuclear weapons.
“This is a great step for Amalgamated, a bank that seeks to embrace transparency to share some more specific information about its investment policies. We hope that it leads to a full fledged policy against investing in nuclear weapon producers soon,” said Susi Snyder, who coordinates Don’t Bank on the Bomb report.
A growing part of the financial sector recognizes its responsibility in contributing to and upholding global norms such as the norm against nuclear weapons represented by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is clear from the increased activity on and attention to socially responsible standards and investments in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.
During the negotiations for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, around 20 states explicitly indicated they supported either an explicit inclusion of a prohibition on financing/investments in the treaty, or the prohibition of these activities as part of assistance. Most nuclear-armed states rely on private companies for the production, maintenance and modernization of their nuclear weapons. Financial institutions provide crucial and necessary support to these companies, so that they are able to carry out projects like producing key components for nuclear weapons.
“While states without nuclear weapons cannot eliminate any nuclear weapons themselves, this announcement from Amalgamated shows that this treaty can have a significant impact on nuclear weapons producers” said Snyder. “Ending the financing of nuclear weapon producers is a way that the treaty and its supporters can have an effective impact on the companies and states that remain outside of the treaty that are involved with the production and retention of nuclear weapons,” she continued.
For more information about financial institutions and investments in nuclear weapons production, see Don’t Bank on the Bomb