Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Economic Dimensions of Nuclearism Working Group

This working group, established at the Abolition 2000 annual meeting held in Geneva on 16 Sept. 2011, focuses on cutting nuclear weapons budgets and shifting this funding to meet social, economic and environmental needs. The working group provides an umbrella for work done in both nuclear-armed and non-nuclear countries. It combines the approaches of two earlier Abolition 2000 Working Groups:  Divestment  and Military Corporate.

Actions on nuclear weapons divestment, in particular, can be undertaken in most countries, and at multiple levels. Many public funds, banks, cities, universities, churches and other institutions are investing in companies manufacturing nuclear weapons or their delivery systems. Divestment actions can reverse this and have considerable impact on the corporations that are driving the nuclear arms race.

The nuclear weapons divestment campaign is being stepped up following adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (ban treaty) on July 7, 2017. States joining the ban treaty are being encouraged to prohibit investments in nuclear weapons corporations as part of their national implementation measures for the treaty. Cities in nuclear-armed and non-nuclear States are being encouraged to divest city funds from nuclear weapons corporations. See Ban treaty opens the door to global nuclear divestment campaign.

With over $100 billion spent on nuclear weapons annually, public concern over economic crises and austerity budgets offers important opportunities to reach out to important new partners, including those working on climate change, war prevention, justice, environmental protection, sustainable development etc… This working group considers how to build these connections and therefore to strengthen the actions.

Rob van Riet, World Future Council, rob.vanriet@worldfuturecouncil.org
Alyn Ware, PNND, alyn@pnnd.org

Campaign actions:

  • Move the Nuclear Weapons Money. Actions to reduce nuclear weapons budgets, and re-direct these resources to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Includes direct action against nuclear weapons budgets in nuclear-armed States, plus nuclear-weapons divestment campaign for non-nuclear governments, as well as cities, academic institutions, and individuals anywhere.
  • Count the Nuclear Weapons Money. An action in New York from May 10-16, 2018 to count the $1trillion dollars that is planned to be spent on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years.
  • Global Campaign on Military Spending. A global campaign to cut military spending in order to better fund human needs.
  • Global Days of Action on Military Spending. Now expanded into two weeks of actions around the world from April 5-18. Coincides with the annual SIPRI report on world military spending.
  • Don’t Bank on the Bomb. Regularly updated information about the companies involved in the production of key components for nuclear weapons. Publicly available information about the banks and other financial institutions trying to profit from making nuclear bombs.
  • Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditure (SANE) Act. (2017). Introduced into the U.S. Congress by Senator Markey since 2014. Calls for the U.S. nuclear weapons budget to be slashed in order to instead fund health, education, climate protection, renewable energy, environmental protection and job creation. We encourage U.S. activists to urge their congress members to support. Contact PNND for more information on this, and other parliamentary actions on nuclear weapons spending.
  • United States Conference of Mayors resolutions (2017) on Opposition to Military Spending and on Nuclear threat reduction, diplomacy and disarmament, including cutting nuclear weapons spending and redirecting these funds to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, and to ensure basic human services for all, including education, environmental protection, food assistance, housing and health care. Contact Jackie Cabasso, Mayors for Peace USA (wslf@earthlink.net) for more information.


Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. October 2017. Includes parliamentary action to divest public funds from nuclear weapons corporations as one of the key national implementation measures on adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb.
The only annual global report providing information on companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons and the financial institutions investing in them. A resource for anyone interested in divestment from nuclear weapons producers. Published by the No Nukes project at PAX.

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money: A handbook for civil society and legislators: – October 2016
Published by International Peace Bureau, World Future Council and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

Trident and Jobs: The case for a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency: Considers the possibilities for increased jobs resulting from cutting the Trident renewal program and redirecting the funds into other employment utilising the skills of those that would be employed on the Trident program.

‘£167 billion?!’ How the cost of Trident replacement could spiral out of control, Report by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament on the cost of the UK Trident nuclear weapons system.

Global Zero Technical Report:World Spending on Nuclear Weapons Surpasses $1 Trillion per Decade
June 2011 – Continues the work of ‘Atomic Audit’ and ‘Nuclear Security Costs’. Impressively detailed report revealing the entire world’s spending on nuclear weapons programs: $100bn for all nuclear weapons possessors in 2011.

BASIC Trident Commission: Beyond the United Kingdom: Trends in Other Nuclear Armed States
Nov. 2011 – Comprehensive, extensive report detailing nuclear stockpile numbers, force modernization trends, declaratory policy and nuclear doctrine of nuclear-weapons possessing states, as well as some info on spending.

Richard Norton-Taylor: Nuclear Powers Plan Weapons Spending Spree, Report Finds

Federation of American Scientists (FAS): ‘The Nuclear Information Project – Nuclear Forces Guide’.
Cites nuclear contractors in nuclear weapons possessing states.

Nuclear Weapons: At What Cost? IPB publication by Ben Cramer, 2009, 150pp.
(currently out of print)


Sean Parnell:Federal Government Block Looms on Nuclear Funds
Nov. 2011 – Article examining possibility of an Australian government veto over investments in companies associated with nuclear weapons – including, potentially, more than $135 million worth of investments by the Future Fund.

Dan Oakes:Australia Investing in Nuclear Arms
2011 – News story detailing reports uncovering $135.4 million invested by the Future Fund in 15 companies involved in the design, production and maintenance of nuclear weapons.


Bruno Barrillot, CDRPC: HYPERLINK “http://www.obsarm.org/spip.php?articlHYPERLINK “http://www.obsarm.org/spip.php?arAudit Atomique: Le Cout de l’Arsenal Nucléaire Francais 1945-2010
1999 – Book (in French) laying out the costs (projected) of the French nuclear arsenal from 1945 – 2010: at least 1’891 bn in 1997 francs (about €351.6 bn (2010)).

United Kingdom

Rob Edwards:MoD Spends £2bn on Nuclear Weapons Ahead of Trident Renewal Decision
Nov. 2011 – The Ministry of Defence is spending £2bn on new nuclear weapons plants, even before a formal decision has been taken over whether to replace Trident warheads.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament:The Great Trident Job Threat
Sept. 2011 – CND research shows that replacing Britain’s aging nuclear weapons system will cost far more than expected and will come at the expense of existing public sector jobs.

United States

Stephen I. Schwartz (ed.): Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940
1998 – The first and seminal book (679 pp) to document the costs of U.S. nuclear weapons, assembling the actual and estimated expenditures for the program since its creation in 1940.

Stephen I. Schwartz: The Costs of US Nuclear Weapons
Oct. 2008 – Summary of the ‘Atomic Audit’: from 1940-1996, the U.S. spent a minimum of $5.5 trillion on its nuclear weapons program.

Stephen I. Schwartz: Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities
Jan. 2009 – An influential, more recent, study calculating U.S. nuclear security budget: $52 billion nuclear weapons spending in 2008, but only 10 percent of that spent on preventing a nuclear attack through slowing and reversing proliferation.

 Pentagon Weighs Cuts to Nuclear Arsenal
Nov. 2011 – Under pressure to trim the US defense budget, the Pentagon is considering cuts to the country’s nuclear arsenal; but the precise cost of the arsenal is disputed.

USA Spending More on Nukes Now than During Cold War
Nov. 2011 – The US currently puts around $55 billion annually into its nuclear weapons program, but only $35 billion each year during the Cold War.

Andrew Rosenthal:The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget
Oct. 2011 – Nuclear-related programs could cost the US $600 billion or more over the next decade: the US should spend this money elsewhere.

FAS, Stephen I. Schwartz: Building Budgetary Transparency and Accountability for the US Nuclear Weapons Program
Sept. 2011 – Lack of comprehensive accounting of nuclear weapons expenditure

William Hartung: The High Price of Nukes: Weapons We Don’t Need at a Cost We Can’t Afford
Dec. 2011 – Post criticizing the vast amounts being spent on nuclear weapons programs, arguing that cost estimates at the lower range are understated, and calling for transparency in nuclear weapons budgeting.

David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation:The High Costs of Nuclear Arsenals
Oct. 2011 – Critical article arguing that the total accumulated US expenditure on nuclear weapons ($8 trillion!) could be put to better use, namely in reaching the MDGs.

The US Nuclear Weapons ‘Triad’
Nov. 2011 – Nuclear-armed submarines, intercontinental missiles and strategic bombers make up the US atomic “triad”, which the Pentagon is considering scaling back under budget cuts.

US Spending on Nuclear Weapons Programs: Disputes about Exact Costs

Nov. 2011 – The Ploughshares Fund provides an estimate of the US nuclear weapons cost of about $700 billion. Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler argues that this figure is vastly overstated, and Robert Zarate further details how this number was exaggerated. John T. Bennett outlines the intense debate this number has sparked among politicians; Congressman Turner refutes the $700 billion figure. Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, which originally produced the $700 billion figure, defends the original analysis. Bruce Blair argues that costs of $700 billion may even be underestimating the true expenditure.   

FAS, Steven Aftergood: Cost of Nuclear Weapons Program in Dispute
Nov. 2011 – Lack of unified, comprehensive budget on nuclear weapons spending leads to widely diverging estimates of the costs among members of Congress.

Jeffrey Lewis: The Nuclear Weapons Budget
Dec. 2011 – Blog post presenting the US administration’s and the Ploughshare Fund’s estimates of the nuclear weapons budget, commenting on their accuracy.


Tim Wright, ICAN:Nuclear Weapons Spending: A Theft of Public Resources
2011 – Conclusive issues paper detailing government investments in nuclear arms, collecting arguments against this practice, and presenting possible actions to urge governments to divest.

Jan Willem van Gelder, Petra Spaargaren and Roderick Bouwers, Profundo: Dirty Business: Spanish Banks Financing Producers of Controversial Weapons
2011 – Detailed report investigating all Spanish banks’ financial relationships with regard to involvement in financing controversial weapons producers, uncovering 14 of 80 banks doing so.

Profundo: ProjectsDutch Pension Funds and Controversial WeaponsandGerman Banks Financing Producers of Nuclear Weapons and Depleted Uranium Weapons
2010 – Two research projects analyzing investments of Dutch and German banks in controversial weapons producers.

Tim Wright, ICAN:Nuclear Weapons and Australia’s Future Fund
2011 – Article detailing why Australia’s Future Fund should no longer invest in the 15 companies involved in producing and maintaining nuclear weapons.

Disarmament Costs

Susan Willett, UNIDIR:Cost of Disarmament – Disarming the Costs: Nuclear Arms Control and Nuclear Rearmament
2003 – Nuclear arms control regimes come at a high cost. However, these pale into insignificance when compared with the costs and risks of nuclear rearmament.

Justin Alger and Trevor Findlay:The Costs of Nuclear Disarmament
Sept. 2009 – The paper finds that the costs of disarmament will be high, but that the financial burden of deploying, maintaining and upgrading nuclear arsenals in perpetuity is far more.

Selected list of relevant NGOs
Abolition 2000
Ban all Nukes Generation (BANG)
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Global Zero
International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA)
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Proliferation (INESAP)
International Peace Bureau (IPB)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
Japan Council against A&H Bombs (Gensuikyo)
Mayors for Peace
Middle Powers Initiative
Mouvement de la Paix
Nuclear Abolition Forum
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)
Peace Boat
Reaching Critical Will/WILPF
Western States Legal Foundation

Research institutes
Brookings Institution
Carnegie Endowment

Compiled by Joana Racine, International Peace Bureau, 29 Nov. 2011