Nuclear weapons are more than just a terrifying threat to every living thing on earth. For decades, they’ve been a terrific way to make money.
A new report from PAX, a Dutch peace organization, both illuminates how profitable it can be for multinational corporations to manufacture Armageddon and provides a roadmap for taking the money out of mass death.
The PAX report identifies a total of $116 billion in current contracts between governments and the private sector to design, build, and maintain the world’s nuclear arsenals. The actual amount may be significantly higher, since all nine nuclear powers maintain some degree of opacity about their nuclear programs. “We know what we can trace,” says Susi Snyder, the report’s principal author, “but there’s definitely more out there.”
Many powerful corporations therefore have incentives to push governments to expand their nuclear stockpiles. At a recent investor conference, a managing director of the investment bank Cowen Inc. questioned the CEO of Raytheon, one of the nuclear contractors listed by PAX. “We’re about to exit the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] with Russia,” the managing director said, and excitedly asked if this means that “we will really get a defense budget that will really benefit Raytheon.” (The planet may be destroyed, but for a beautiful moment in time, they will have created a lot of value for shareholders.)
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