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Nuclear Weapons and Globalization

February 2000

Steven Staples

The creation of a single global economy through globalization is undermining international peace and security. The loss of national sovereignty, increased financial instability, the rise of transnational corporations, and the increasing power imbalance in favour of the United States and its Western allies are promoting nuclear proliferation and derailing nuclear disarmament.

The global economy is limiting the influence of the nation-state, while transferring power to corporations, financial markets, and multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the IMF, all of which are incapable of promoting diplomacy and international peace and security.

Nations whose economy and sovereignty are weakened by globalization will make great efforts to maintain or regain security and economic development through military spending. Military build-ups could result in regional arms races, or as in the case of India, end in nations "going nuclear."

Meanwhile, industrialized countries maintain their technological advantage and high-tech industries through military spending. Domestic weapons corporations aggressively promote the maintenance of existing nuclear war-fighting capability and the development of new nuclear weapons systems to keep lucrative military contracts flowing, regardless of the effect of these weapons on international peace and security.

Weapons Corporations

The world's largest aerospace and defence corporations build weapons and weapons systems necessary to wage nuclear war. These corporations include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, United Technologies, TRW, and others.

The latest round of corporate mergers has concentrated the entire industry into a handful of corporations which use their influence to lobby for the upgrading and development of new nuclear weapons systems. The top four corporations spent more than $34 million on political lobbying and an astonishing $6.9 million in campaign contributions in 1997 and 1998.[1]

The United States continues to spend $34 billion annually to maintain and upgrade Cold War-era nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, providing billions of dollars in contracts to weapons corporations.[2]

  • Northrop Grumman has built 21 B-2 Stealth Bombers, which cost $2.2 billion each. The U.S. government is spending $145 million to keep the production line open for more planes.
  • Lockheed Martin was recently awarded a $589 million contract for twelve more D5 nuclear missiles for Trident submarines. The government has already bought 372 D5s at a cost of nearly $60 million each.
  • Congress approved $2.2 billion for 2001 in additional military spending to buy 100 interceptor missiles from Boeing and Raytheon for the National Missile Defense program.
National Missile Defense

The National Missile Defense program promises to defend countries from nuclear attacks, but instead could restart a nuclear arms race. This dubious program is being aggressively promoted by weapons corporations which stand to profit from $13 billion in contracts if even a modest system is built.

But the National Missile Defense program has already cost the world an opportunity for nuclear disarmament. In January 2000, Russia offered to reduce its nuclear stockpile by 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons if the United States dropped its NMD program. But the US refused, and demanded that Russia allow changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to permit the United States to construct a national missile defense system.[3]

NATO Expansion

The expansion of NATO in 1999 was a vital step in the West's economic integration of the former Warsaw Pact countries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. With NATO in place, investors and corporations are confident that their investments in Eastern Europe are secure from invaders.

But the expansion of NATO has strengthened Russian hard-liners, resulting in faint hope of Russia signing START II, and now its armed forces have adopted a more aggressive nuclear posture to counter the threat from a nuclear-armed and expanding NATO.

Nuclear Proliferation

India's nuclear tests in May 1998 were more a response to the Asian financial crisis than any immediate military threat from Pakistan or China.

The humiliation of Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia by the IMF and foreign investors strengthened nationalism and anti-western sentiment in India, moving the country toward militarism and building public support for "going nuclear."

Nuclear weapons are the currency of power in today's world, and India refused to be made subservient to foreign corporate interests. When it was announced that the nuclear tests were successful, television broadcast showed Indian people pouring cans of Coca-Cola in the gutter in defiance of Western corporations and globalization.

Written by Steven Staples.

[1] William D. Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca, "Who is Driving the Missile Defense Revival?," The Boston Globe 27 January 2000.

[2] Stephen I. Schwartz, "Maintaining our nuclear arsenal is expensive,"The Washington Times 26 March 1997.

[3] Pierre Simonitsch, "Moscow says it will disarm,"Frankfurter Rundschau, 27 January 2000.

International Network on Disarmament and Globalization

Main Page on Globalisation

Further Articles about Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and Testing.


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