NYC Considers Divesting From Nuclear Weapon Manufacturers via Gothamist


The City Council is targeting the nuclear weapons industry with a pair of bills intended to end the city’s passive involvement in the production of these devastating bombs.

One resolution calls on the city comptroller to divest from nuclear weapons manufacturers in public employees’ pension funds. The second would create a committee to officially designate New York as a city that does not produce or store nuclear weapons, also known as, “a nuclear weapon-free zone.”

Two nuclear weapon manufacturers, Boeing and Honeywell, make up over half of the $475 million of investments in city employees’ pension funds, according to a 2020 Pace University study. But the investments amount to just 0.25 percent of NYC’s $2 billion pension funds.

Boeing has produced and continues maintenance on 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles and Honeywell produces 85% of the non-nuclear materials needed for the weapon, according to Don’t Bank on The Bomb, a report on the nuclear weapon business.

“The time to divest all city money from nuclear arms manufacturing is now,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm said in a City Council hearing on Tuesday. “We’ve got to tell Mayor de Blasio it was done for fossil fuels, so why can’t we do it for nuclear divestment as well?”

De Blasio committed to divesting in fossil fuels in January 2018, but his plan came under fire a few months ago after it was revealed some banks administering city employee pension funds were still heavily investing in the oil and gas industry.

New York, of course, is inextricably linked to the creation of nuclear weapons. The atomic bombs detonated above Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945 were created by scientists in the Manhattan Project, and some of the research was done at Columbia University.

In 1983, the City Council first voted to make NYC a nuclear weapon-free city and removed all 184 warheads from city limits.


The City Council is also proposing the creation of a five-year advisory committee with the mandate to establish NYC as a nuclear weapon-free zone as a way to pressure the federal government into signing the UN’s 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. NYC would join Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Baltimore, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Honolulu, who have supported nuclear disarmament.


“The way the bill is currently constituted, International Affairs is not the appropriate agency to take the lead on this because fundamentally this is a domestic activity,” Abeywardena said.

MOIA works with the United Nations, and in 2018 helped New York become the first city in the world to report directly to the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dromm disagreed, arguing the bill addresses an international issue.
“I’m disappointed that the administration doesn’t take this issue seriously,” Dromm said, noting that 122 countries have signed onto ICAN’s nuclear disarmament treaty.


Since both bills have a veto-proof super-majority, meaning 34 of the 51 council members are in favor of the legislation, it’s unlikely that they’ll fail during the next full City Council vote.

During the hearing’s testimony, Reverend Toshikazu Kenjitsu Nakagaki remarked this could be the start of something new, “The Manhattan Project for Peace.”

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