Geneva. Activists said on Monday that countries with nuclear weapons spent $1.4 billion on their arsenals last year while the pandemic caused human and economic devastation around the world.
In a recent report, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) detailed how nine countries with such weapons continued to increase their spending.
“As hospital beds were filled with patients … nine countries found that they had more than $72 billion for weapons of mass destruction,” the report said.
This represents an increase of $1.4 billion (1.2 billion euros) in 2019 spending, said ICAN, the organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
According to the report, the United States spent more than half of the total amount, about 37 thousand 400 million dollars, which is about 5% of its military spending in 2020, the document states.
According to ICAN estimates, China is believed to have spent about $10 billion and Russia $8 billion.
It said that all nine countries combined, which also includes the UK, France, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, spent more than $137,000 every minute in 2020.
The escalation came even as the NGO defended the Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons received its 50th ratification, leading to its entry in January.
The report also highlights how governments over-funded defense contractors, who in turn pumped more money into lobbying groups to increase spending.
According to ICAN, for every dollar invested last year under pressure on governments to spend more on defense, $236 went back to companies in the form of nuclear weapons contracts.
More than 20 nuclear weapons companies benefited from the business last year through existing or new contracts. According to the report, eleven Western companies raised $27.7 billion.
The main companies that benefited were Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and Draper.