Ban nuclear weapons, stop modernizing arsenals

A treaty banning nuclear weapons will have a direct and powerful impact on nuclear weapons possessing countries, even if those countries do not participate in the negotiations or sign onto the treaty. Not only through the normative effect of finally filing the legal gap by prohibiting the only weapon of mass destruction still not clearly outlawed, but also by the direct impact it will have on the companies involved in the nuclear weapons industry.

Currently, export control regimes play a significant part in the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. By preventing the transfer of key components and materials necessary for nuclear weapons, the treaty is strengthened and proliferation risks are reduced. Although the export control regimes are not open to all States, and are often not transparent in their decision making processes, many NPT States parties accept their recommendations and limit transfers. This is also a way to enhance and build upon the obligations set out in the treaty. It is something that a few committed States have taken forward, and contributes to the overall strength of the regime.

A nuclear weapons ban treaty will do something similar. It can be negotiated by committed States and by including prohibitions on investment will set the stage for significant reductions in working capital for the companies that are involved in modernizing nuclear weapons. With strong language in the treaty, as well as with some champion states to lead on national implementation legislation, this is likely to have a tremendous impact on the companies involved.

This is what Don’t Bank on the Bomb’s sibling campaign, Stop Explosive Investments has already demonstrated. The cluster muntions convention is impacting states not party to the treaty because companies have stopped making cluster bombs. They’ve done this for a host of reasons, but some of the biggest arms manufacturers in the world have made it clear that the pressure they’ve felt by being included on financial black lists, has been the incentive they’ve needed to stop producing inhumane and indiscriminate weapons. A nuclear ban treaty can do that too, and will have a powerful impact towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

written by

Susi Snyder is the nuclear disarmament programme leader for PAX (formerly IKV Pax Christi) in the Netherlands. She is one of the primary authors of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Don't Bank on the Bomb reports.

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