CND welcomes the release of the “Surge: 2023 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The report provides a stark and troubling overview of global nuclear weapons expenditure: it has surged by 34% in the past five years, from $68.2 billion to $91.4 billion annually, with a cumulative total of $387 billion during this period.

The report also highlights a deeply worrying and absolutely inappropriate corporate involvement in UK government policy making. The report found that companies involved in Britain’s nuclear weapons programmes have held meetings with senior government officials in the past year. These manufacturers, along with nuclear-armed states, have also financed – to the tune of millions of pounds – think tanks that shape government policy and public opinion on nuclear weapons.

In terms of spending on nuclear weapons, UK figures are particularly shocking. Over the past five years, Britain’s spending has increased by over 43%. In 2023 alone, Britain spent a staggering £6.5 billion on nuclear weapons, up 17.1% on the previous year. This positions Britain as the fourth-highest spender on nuclear weapons globally, just behind Russia, and marks the second-largest increase in spending after the United States – which spent more than all the other nuclear-armed states combined.

This report comes at a critical time, during Britain’s general election campaign. Both Labour and the Conservatives have pledged to modernise the country’s nuclear arsenal, seemingly at any cost.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

“The billions of pounds being funneled into these weapons of mass destruction are a gross misallocation of resources that could be used to address pressing issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and poverty alleviation. It is deeply concerning that our political leaders are prioritizing the expansion of our nuclear arsenal over the well-being of our citizens and the health of our planet.

This report also makes absolutely clear the influence of arms companies in the shaping of defence and foreign policy, their funding of think tanks, and their meetings with government officials. This runs against all democracy and accountability, and must be exposed, investigated and ended.

As we approach the general election on 4 July, we urge voters to elect MPs who prioritise peace, disarmament, and justice. It is time for political parties to determine policy based on the interests of the people, not the arms companies. We want a decent peaceful future that does not include reckless expenditure on nuclear weapons but creates a safer, fairer world for all.”