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Belgian Bank KBC ceases investments in uranium weapons

The Belgian bank KBC is the first large Bank Company in Belgium, which has decided to stop investing in manufacturers of uranium weapons.
29 September 2006 - ICBUW

Since October 2003 the bank watchdog Netwerk-Vlaanderen campaigned together with the peace-organisations Vrede, Voor Moeder Aarde (For Mother Earth) and Forum voor Vredesactie against investments in weapon systems by the Belgian banking. As a result of lobbying by this campaign called 'My Money, Clear Conscience'? again KBC has made important progress toward a more peaceful investment policy.

KBC is the first investor withdrawing from uranium weapons

KBC has decided to cease its investments in companies that are involved in the development, the manufacture and the trade of uranium weapons.

With this move KBC acts beyond its legal obligations, and it takes a clear ethical stand. KBC declares this withdrawal by stating that there is an international consensus about the fact that the deployment of these weapons caused disproportionate and severe suffering amongst f.e. civilian victims during the last five decades. The KBC-newsletter Monitor duurzaam beleggen (Dec. 2004) states: "This decision has no complication with the involved turnover of these weapons and stands loose from the fact whether these weapons are prohibited or not by international law, as long as there exists a broad social platform to ban them."

Earlier in 2004 also KBC was the first banking group that blocked investments in corporations involved in the development, the production and the trade of anti-personal mines and cluster munitions.

Report examines five large banking groups

In the spring of 2004 a report from Netwerk-Vlaanderen revealed that the banking groups AXA, Dexia, Fortis, ING and KBC invested in producers of uranium weapons. Even after the release of this report Netwerk-Vlaanderen and the Belgian coalition stop uranium weapons have put pressure on the KBC bank. Finally KBC visited Netwerk-Vlaanderen and Voor Moeder Aarde to collect the evidence of the corporations involved in the manufacture of uranium weapons.

These companies are not the least. ATK Alliant Techsystems Hopkins and General Dynamics are amongst the producers from which KBC withdraws. ATK is the most important supplier of munitions to the American army. General Dynamics is the sixth biggest weapons-producer in the world. It produces uranium weapons, fighter planes and war-vessels. With its change of policy KBC has excluded again a number of big actors within the armaments industry from its investment funds.

Will the act of KBC be inspiring for other banking groups?

The Belgian Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons is elated about this news. The non-governmental organisations that constitute this coalition hope that the big banking groups AXA, Dexia, Fortis and ING will follow the investment policy of KBC. KBC sends out an important signal to the financial world. KBC has finally understood that investing money in producers of uranium weapons is ethically unjustified.

*Uranium weapons= munitions and armour-plating that contain 'depleted uranium' or 'uranium contaminated with fission products from the nuclear industry'.