Complicit: nuclear weapons spending increased by $1.4 billion in 2020 - ICAN Report

Posted: 7th June 2021

We’re excited to let you know that today we are launching our 2020 global nuclear weapons spending report: “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending.” This report provides an estimate of global nuclear weapons spending, this year at $72.6 billion, which is an increase of $1.4 billion from last year.


Not only does this report reveal the massive spending on nuclear weapons during the worst global pandemic in a century, it also shines a light on the shadowy connection between the private companies building nuclear weapons, lobbyists and think tanks.


The report shows how much different companies got in nuclear weapon contracts, how much they spent lobbying and funding think tanks, and how much taxpayer money their CEOs took home last year. (hint: it’s a lot!)


The idea is to show the cycle of nuclear weapons spending and more of the actors that are complicit in keeping these nuclear weapons in business, as you can see in this animated video.

It’d be great if you could retweet the launch tweet as well:


We’ve prepared some talking points on the report, which as always of course can be adapted to your national context as useful to reach out to journalists or parliamentarians, and canva files here and here that you can use to share the report on social media.

General key facts & talking points:

·         Increasing spending by $1.4 billion on illegal weapons of mass destruction during a global pandemic is irresponsible and inexcusable.

·         This report reveals all the actors involved in the dirty nuclear weapons business and they must all be held accountable.

·         While most countries banned nuclear weapons in 2020, a handful of countries, companies and think tanks continued to profit from the cycle of nuclear weapons spending.

·         Instead of wasting $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons during a global pandemic, the nine nuclear-armed countries must join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


US, UK & France country-specific facts:

·         The United States spent $37.4 billion, more than $70,000 per minute, on nuclear weapons in 2020 during a global pandemic, more than all other nuclear-armed nations combined on its nuclear weapons in 2020.

·         While the hospital supplies were short and doctors worked over time, the United States increased its nuclear weapon spending by $1.6 billion in 2020, more than any other country.

·         The United Kingdom spent $6.2 billion (£4.5 billion), or $11,769 per minute, on nuclear weapons in 2020. During a global pandemic.

·         Over $13 billion in US and UK taxpayer money was spent on contracts awarded to BAE Systems, Boeing, Draper, General Dynamic, Huntington Ingalls Industries, L3 Harris Technologies, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for work on the Trident System.

·         While there is no requirement to report lobbying expenses in the UK, there were at least 138 meetings between 11 defence contractors and various ministries, 35 were directly with the Ministry of Defence

·         The 2020 French defence bill allocated €4.7 billion or €8,894 per minute for the French arsenal in 2020. ($5.7 billion, or $10,786 per minute). This is an inflation-adjusted increased of $800 million from 2019.

·         Nuclear weapon producers spent at least €3 million in lobbying French policy makers in 2020.

·         At least €8 billion of French taxpayer funds is anticipated by Airbus for future work on the French nuclear arsenal. Airbus (mostly through the MBDA joint venture working on nuclear weapons) spent €2 million lobbying Frency policymakers in 2020.

Just a quick note to say that the methodology for the UK was updated from the 2019 report (and has been recalculated with the new methodology in this report) in case you are wondering about why the 2019 number has changed!


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!


Alicia and Susi

Please click the links below:

and for an animated summary of the report,
Find out more – call Caroline on 01722 321865 or email us.