Christian groups are among more than 40 organisations calling on NatWest to update its ‘defence sector’ policy to reflect that nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law.
The call comes following widespread condemnation of the UK Government’s decision to increase the cap on the nuclear weapons in its stockpile by up to 40 per cent.
In the letter, addressed to NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose, the organisations encourage the bank to change its ‘controversial weapons policy’, to recognise that nuclear weapons remain a ‘grave threat’ to both the planet and its inhabitants.
Citing the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945, the letter warns that ‘those affected by the development, manufacture, testing, deployment and use of nuclear weapons, and their children, carry the scars of this heinous weapon in their bodies’.
They also highlight the ‘far-reaching and irreversible’ environmental harm caused by the weapon, explaining that soil and water in places from Algeria to Australia to Nevada and Novaya Zemlya ‘will never be ‘normal’.’
Citing experiments with nuclear weapons, they warn that a nuclear war using less than 0.1 per cent of the explosive yield of the current global nuclear arsenal would bring about devastating agricultural collapse and widespread famine.
They note that an understanding of these risks led 122 countries to support a total ban on nuclear weapons in 2017, through the adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
While commending NatWest for acknowledging the controversial nature of nuclear weapons in its current Defence Sector Policy, the signatories warn that ‘the policy is not strong enough to prevent investments in nuclear weapon producers’.
They suggest instead that it ‘should exclude nuclear weapon producers in their entirety to ensure that the financial services provided to a company do not benefit the production of nuclear weapons’.
‘A change in policy now would be an important milestone on the road to becoming a purpose-led organisation championing the potential of people, families, communities, cities and businesses. Nuclear weapons put all these things at risk,’ they say.
Signatories include the National Justice & Peace Network; Columban Missionaries Britain; Pax Christi England and Wales; Pax Christi Scotland; Christian CND; and the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace.
Picture: A sign with the peace symbol is pictured in a file photo during a rally against nuclear weapons in front of London’s Houses of Parliament. (CNS photo/Luke MacGregor, Reuters).