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7. Merchants of Death and Nuclear Weapons

The Physicians for Social Responsibility released a study estimating that one billion people—one-seventh of the human race—could starve over the decade following a single nuclear detonation. A key finding was that corn production in the United States would decline by an average of 10 percent for an entire decade, with the most severe decline (20 percent) in the fifth year. Another forecast was that increases in food prices would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest: the 925 million people in the world who are already chronically malnourished (with a baseline consumption of 1,750 calories or less per day) would be put at risk by a 10 percent decline in their food consumption.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) released its 180-page study showing that nuclear-armed nations spend over $100 billion each year assembling new warheads, modernizing old ones, and building ballistic missiles, bombers, and submarines to launch them. The US still has about 2,500 nuclear weapons deployed and 2,600 more as backup. Washington and Moscow account for 90 percent of all nuclear weapons. Despite a White House pledge to seek a world without nuclear weapons, the 2011 federal budget for nuclear weapons research and development exceeded $7 billion and could (if the Obama administration has its way) exceed $8 billion per year by the end of this decade.

Nuclear-armed nations spend over $100 billion each year on weapons programs. The institutions most heavily involved in financing nuclear arms makers include Bank of America, BlackRock, and JPMorgan Chase in the United States; BNP Paribas in France; Allianz and Deutsche Bank in Germany; Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in Japan; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and Banco Santander in Spain; Credit Suisse and UBS in Switzerland; and Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, and Royal Bank of Scotland in Britain.

Censored #7

Merchants of Death and Nuclear Weapons

Marc Pilisuk, “Occupying the Merchants of Death,” Project Censored, November 22, 2012,

Student Researcher: Jessica Eccles (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)


  • Milan Rai October 1, 2013

    Nuclear weapons are a serious danger. However, the Physicians for Social Responsibility report, Nuclear Famine: A Billion People At Risk, released in April 2012, did not warn of the consequences in the event of a single nuclear detonation, but in the event of a ‘small’ but multi-warhead, multi-target nuclear war between India and Pakistan. It makes a difference what is attacked: burning cities put more black carbon aerosol particles into the atmosphere for the cooling effect (as opposed to attacking missile bunkers in remote locations). Link to report:

    • Danny Adams December 3, 2013

      You answered a question I was about to post. I was curious how a single warhead (all else being equal) would do this much damage when we’ve detonated hundreds of warheads in tests over the course of the last few decades.

  • Dick McManus October 3, 2013

    What about the radioactive fish as a result of Fukushima? And I hope like hell them fuel rods don’t explode being removed from the cooling pond, because could spew out more than 15,000 time more radiation than what was released at Hiroshima.

  • MeTarzan December 2, 2013

    I don’t get it. What about the hundreds of atomic bombs test-detonated between the 1940s and the…70s, maybe??

    I mean, we’re still here, right?

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