PEACE campaigners are urging Scots to force the hand of the country’s biggest institutions in a war against nuclear weapons as a bombshell report is launched.

With data drawn from annual results, official statements and freedom of information reports, the paper reveals the extent to which major Scottish bodies help fund the making of nuclear weapons.

Billed as a way to help “eliminate” the big-money devices, the document has been produced by the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in conjunction with similar organisations.

READ MORE: Stop funding Armageddon – why nuclear investment must end

It calls on bank customers, students and pension holders to press major institutions into divesting their funds from companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

These include Royal Bank of Scotland and the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme (SLGPS), the largest fund of its kind in the country.

It also claims that success could help sink Trident, arguing: “If we can persuade Scottish financial institutions to divest from nuclear weapons producers, this will incentivise those companies to end their involvement with Trident and other nuclear weapons programmes.”

The guide is released under the umbrella Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland, a campaign comprising Scottish CND, Medact Scotland and the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre.

It is based on similar work carried out in the Netherlands and encourages account holders to threaten to quit their banks unless they agree to cut ties with businesses involved in the manufacture and maintenance of the devastating arms systems. It also urges people to write to councillors and MSPs over pension funds.

Guide author Linda Pearson said: “Scottish local government pension funds, universities and financial institutions invest billions of pounds in companies involved in the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons. These investors are helping to fuel a new nuclear arms race, which threatens our very survival.

“Vast sums of money which could be used to fund healthcare, housing and education are instead being spent maintaining and modernising the arsenals of nuclear-armed states.”

According to the paper, the SLGPS – which includes around half a million members – “holds shares worth approximately £294 million in 14 companies that undertake nuclear weapons related work”.

This includes investments made by Lothian and Strathclyde funds.

A spokesperson for local government body COSLA told The National: “We know that administering authorities and pension funds take their responsibilities seriously and operate within both their legal and fiduciary duties.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament said decisions in its scheme – which has holdings in Rolls Royce, a firm involved in the manufacture of nuclear power reactors for the Ministry of Defence – are made at arm’s-length. A spokesperson commented: “Baillie Gifford was appointed as the independent fund manager for the Scottish Parliament Pension Scheme. “It invests parliamentary pension contributions in pooled funds, where the SPPS is only one of a number of investors. Under this arrangement the SPPS does not own any stocks, nor can its fund trustees direct where investments are made.”

And while Glasgow University has committed to divesting from fossil fuels, it retains shares worth almost £1.65m in companies involved in the making of nuclear weapons. Strathclyde University has reported shares in BAE Systems, which produces components for the nuclear arsenals of the UK, the US and France.

The Royal Bank of Scotland group, Lloyds Banking Group and Standard Life Aberdeen are listed for either financing or holding shares in numerous of nuclear weapons firms.

RBS Group said it “prohibits the financing of companies involved in the manufacture, sale, trade, broking, servicing or stockpiling of nuclear weapons in jurisdictions outside NATO countries and that are not officially involved in and accredited to the national nuclear weapons programmes of UK, US or France”.

A spokesperson added: “RBS takes ethical issues very seriously and for many years has had a comprehensive system in place to assess the approach potential clients take to social, environmental and ethical issues.”

The launch comes on the eve of a major demonstration at Faslane on Saturday. Speakers from Russia, Israel and Iran will appear at the Nae Nukes Anywhere event with participants marching from Faslane Peace Camp to the naval base’s north gate from noon.

As many as 122 countries adopted the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July last year, which includes an agreement not to “assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in” a prohibited activity.

The guide, titled Stop Funding the End of the World, says this is “widely understood” to include financing.

Guide writer Pearson added: “Since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed, thirty financial institutions have ceased investing in nuclear weapons.

“It’s now time for the investment policies of Scottish banks, pension funds and public bodies to reflect the values of people in Scotland and respect the will of the international community.”

How RBS bankrolls nuclear

ACCORDING to the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, the RBS Group provided financing of around £2.6 billion to some of the world’s top nuclear weapons producers between 2014-17. This includes:

  • Bechtel – £727.9m
  • Jacobs Engineering – £289.7m
  • Northrop Grumman – £270.5m
  • Boeing – £222.6m
  • Honeywell International £218.4m
  • Safran - £130.6m
  • Huntingdon Ingalls Industries – £124.2m
  • General Dynamics – £122m

It says customers involved in “restricted” activities such as the “manufacture, sale, trade, broking, servicing or stockpiling of nuclear weapons” and the making or sale of bespoke components in NATO countries are subjected to “enhanced due diligence” every one or two years.

The guide says: “We believe that RBS Group can be persuaded to change its policy if enough customers tell the bank that they will move their money unless it stops funding nuclear weapons.”