By: Joyce Rothermel

Not long after the release of the report, “Don’t Bank on the Bomb: A Global Report on the Financing of Nuclear Weapons Producers” by the international peace organization, PAX, in March 2018, people in the Pittsburgh area were inspired to begin our own U.S. campaign: PNC: Stop Banking the Bomb (SBTB). In the Pittsburgh area, PNC has the greatest amount of money “invested” (made available in loans) in nuclear weapons’ manufacturers. The principal authors of the report from PAX, Maaike Beenes and Susi Snyder, noted the lack of official information available in the public domain about the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, along with information about investments in companies producing them. 

The report was timely, following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). With the issue receiving international attention, organizations that have been working on the abolition of nuclear weapons for decades were positioned to receive and act on the information from the PAX report. 

Taken from the forward of the PAX report: “Around the world a tiny handful of governments are risking everything we hold dear. It’s only nine countries, nine countries that would rather put the fate of humanity at risk than support their own populations. Nine countries, supported by another couple dozen, that think nuclear weapons are somehow a solution, somehow an answer to global problems. Only nine countries. And these nine countries are all right now modernizing their nuclear arsenals. They are developing new types of nuclear weapons, for new types of missions, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. They are spending countless billions to make it easier to use nuclear weapons to wipe out entire cities. The governments of China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are committing tremendous resources to maintain objects designed to commit mass murder. 

“Nuclear weapons are weapons created to cause catastrophic suffering. UN agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movements, and first responders the world over know that should nuclear weapons be used again, no help is coming. No relief for the burns, the blast, the fire.” 

But there is hope. A majority of the world’s countries decided to reject nuclear weapons when they adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons in July 2017. Governments are now signing and ratifying the treaty and making the only rational choice in the face of increasing nuclear dangers. Even in countries that have not yet joined the treaty, academia, parliaments, civil society and industry are taking note: nuclear weapons, like other weapons of mass destruction, are now forbidden by international treaty. 

“This report brings attention to how you can use this treaty to influence a powerful actor in the fight against nuclear weapons – the financial institutions. By divesting from nuclear weapon producers, we can make it harder for those that profit from weapons of mass destruction and encourage them to cut the production of nuclear weapons from their business strategies. Producing, possessing and modernizing nuclear weapons is not something to be proud of and ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ names those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons, our job is to shame them. When the world is closer to nuclear war than ever, we need to make sure that no one should profit from this terror.” Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director, ICAN. 

The SBTB Campaign has attracted many endorsing organizations, met with PNC officials, conducted pickets at the PNC headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh each month, and left leaflets at several PNC branches, sharing information about PNC’s loans to companies making nuclear weapons amounting to over $1 billion. The campaign also made public statements at the 2018 and 2019 PNC Shareholders’ meetings. 

Moving PNC to change its corporate policy is the goal. For those who oppose nuclear weapons and live in areas where PNC is present or who are PNC customers, this is our work. IF NOT US, WHO? The current administration has moved us closer to the use of nuclear weapons. It took us out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty. It has led us into greater investments of our national resources into the modernizing of our weapons and a reigniting the nuclear arms race. 

Please join the SBTB Campaign: 

–Join us for our monthly pickets: Friday, Feb. 7 at 11:30 AM at PNC headquarters, Fifth and Wood Streets, Downtown Pittsburgh, and Sat., Feb. 15 at the PNC Branch in Mt. Washington, 236 Shiloh Street from 11 AM to noon. 

–Become a PNC shareholder and plan to attend the annual PNC shareholders meeting in April (stock must be purchased by Feb. 17 for this year’s shareholders’ meeting). 

–If you are a PNC customer, speak up: talk to your branch manager and/or consider changing financial institutions. Special thanks to all those who have already closed their accounts at PNC and putting their reasons in writing to PNC officials when they did. 

–Google ICAN and download the full “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” report. Share what you learn with your family, friends, and colleagues. For more information on PAX, see: paxforpeace.nl 

To learn more about the local SBTB campaign, contact the Thomas Merton Center. They will connect you with the campaign organizers. 

Joyce Rothermel serves on the Coordinating Committee of the PNC: Stop Banking the Bomb Campaign. 

NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 1. February, 2020. All rights reserved.

Categories: Local, News

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