RBS and Barclays Targeted in Disinvestment Campaign
On November 6th ICBUW member organisations launched a global disinvestment campaign against investments by high street banks and investment funds in the manufacturers of uranium weapons.1
In collaboration with Network Flanders and Banktrack, ICBUW launched
'Too Risky for Business' - a dossier detailing how high street banks are
supporting companies that manufacture indiscriminate and illegal weapon
The launch follows the November 1st landslide vote at the UN First Committee in support of a resolution recognising health concerns over the use of depleted uranium weapons.3 The vote was passed by 122 to six and left the US, UK, France and Israel isolated from global opinion.
Too Risky for Business shows that Barclays has significant shareholdings in both Alliant Tech Systems (ATK) and Gencorp. ATK is the largest ammunition manufacturer in the US and in addition to uranium weapons it also produces land mines, cluster bombs and parts for Trident nuclear missiles. Gencorp's wholly owned subsidiary Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee Inc. also produce uranium weapons and again have interests in rocket propulsion, warheads and tactical weapon systems. This year Barclays owned shares amounting to 3.1% of ATK and 4.8% of Gencorp.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has repeatedly formed part of an international banking syndicate that has provided revolving credit facilities and loans to ATK worth in excess of $500m. In 2004 and 2005 it again formed a syndicate to provide revolving credit facilities to General Dynamics, in each case the facility was valued at $1bn. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems manufactures a range of uranium weaponry for the US military. Many of its uranium products have been sold to contentious regimes such as Pakistan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Actions against the banks named in the report will take place across the world and will continue until they disinvest. The Royal Bank of Scotland has already come under pressure in the UK this year for its stance on climate change and the oil industry.
The launch comes after a year of intense campaigning by ICBUW and its member organisations, and follows calls by the European Parliament for a ban on uranium in conventional weapon systems.4 In March this year, Belgium became the first country in the world to introduce a domestic ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems.5 The decision by Brussels to take this step sent a clear message to all users of uranium weapons that the continued use of chemically toxic and radioactive weapon systems is incompatible with international humanitarian legal standards.
ICBUW is asking customers to disinvest from both of these banks and move their business to a more ethical body, such as the Cooperative or Triodos. ICBUW also welcomes direct action against either RBS or Barclays. We have produced an activist tool kit that contains the report, model letters and press releases and logos. It is available to download from: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/143.html
We have also put together a quick disinvestment flyer targetting the UK banks. Download the 2 sided pdf
When you write to your banks, it's good to also send a copy to the head
office. The head offices of RBS and Barclays are as follows:
1. November 6th is the United Nations Day for the Prevention of the Exploitation
of the Environment Through War and Armed Conflict.
The radioactive properties of DU, which is chiefly uranium 238, differ from those of uranium 235. Unlike U238, U235 is fissionable. This means that it is so unstable that firing neutrons at it can produce a self-sustaining series of nuclear reactions, releasing huge amounts of energy. This is the basis of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. However, before U235 is used, it needs to be concentrated as it only makes up a small proportion of naturally occurring uranium, around 0.7%. U238 makes up more than 99% of natural uranium and is less radioactive. After natural uranium has had most of the U235 removed from it, it is called 'depleted uranium' i.e. uranium depleted in the isotope U235. Each kilo of reactor ready enriched uranium produced leaves you with 7kg of DU.
Depleted Uranium itself is a chemically toxic and radioactive compound, which is used in armour piercing munitions because of its very high density. It is 1.7 times denser than lead, giving DU weapons increased range and penetrative power. They belong to a class of weapons called kinetic energy penetrators. The part of the weapon that is made of DU is called a penetrator: this is a long dart weighing more than four kilograms in the largest examples: it is neither a tip nor a coating. The penetrator is usually an alloy of DU and a small amount of another metal such as titanium and molybdenum. These give it extra strength and resistance to corrosion.
Who owns DU weapons and who has used them?
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Read more articles about The Movement to Ban Depleted Uranium
Page last updated: 6 November, 2008