I want to take a minute to highlight an issue that can seem abstract but affects us all. Today, nine nations possess approximately 13,100 nuclear weapons, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. The detonation of even a small number of these weapons could have catastrophic global consequences. And the threat is growing – with the war in Ukraine and rising Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, global tensions are on the rise.
Nuclear weapons are inherently unjust. Their production, testing, and waste continue to disproportionately harm communities of color. The elimination of nuclear weapons is deeply linked to other pressing concerns such as racial and economic justice, militarism, preserving our democracy, and confronting climate change.
In our own country, there are plans to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal at the staggering cost of $1.7 trillion over the next three decades. At a time where federal funds are desperately needed in communities like Madison in order to build affordable housing, improve public transit, and develop sustainable energy sources, our tax dollars are being diverted to and wasted on nuclear weapons to the tune of some $2 million every hour of every day maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Nuclear weapons don’t make us safer, and the enormous sum of money we spend to build and maintain them makes it more difficult to fund other critical programs for our cities and towns.
That’s why I am proud to sponsor a resolution at the Common Council to add Madison to the long and growing list of municipalities and organizations that do not invest in, or purchase from, companies that produce nuclear weapons. This simple action helps reduce the real and immediate risks posed by nuclear weapons and the chances that they will ever again be used. Moreover, many socially responsible investment options and vendors are available that can continue to meet the City’s investment and purchasing goals while excluding nuclear weapons producers.
The resolution also calls on the United States and our elected officials to take additional action, including actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals; renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first; take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and take other actions to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
This is not a partisan issue. This matters to you, your family and our community, regardless of political affiliation. As Mayor, I have a solemn duty to do what I can to keep my constituents safe – and nuclear weapons should be no exception. I want to thank the folks in the Madison Back from the Brink Coalition for their advocacy on this issue. I hope the Council will join Alds. Figureoa Cole, Rummel, and Evers, my co-sponsors, in supporting this resolution.
The full text of the resolution is below; additional information can be found on Legistar.
Title: Supporting limitations on city purchases from nuclear weapons producers.
WHEREAS, nations across the globe still maintain over 15,000 nuclear weapons, some of which are hundreds of times more powerful than those that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and detonation of even a small fraction of these weapons would cause suffering and death for most of the Earth’s population and a decade-long nuclear winter; and
WHEREAS, the United States of America plans to invest over one trillion dollars over the coming decades to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, which many experts believe actually increases the risk of nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism, and accidental nuclear war; and
WHEREAS, in a period where federal funds are desperately needed in communities like Madison in order to build affordable housing, improve public transit, and develop sustainable energy sources, our tax dollars are being diverted to and wasted on nuclear weapons; and
WHEREAS, investing in, and purchasing from, companies producing nuclear weapons implicitly supports this misdirection of our tax dollars; and
WHEREAS, socially responsible investment options and vendors are available that can continue to meet the city’s investment and purchasing goals while excluding nuclear weapons producers.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Madison declare that it is the policy of the City of Madison not to invest in, or purchase from, companies that produce nuclear weapons; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Finance Director/City Treasurer shall not invest City of Madison funds in companies that produce nuclear weapons and will limit the amount invested in US Treasuries to no more than 20 percent of the investment portfolio unless otherwise required by Bond Indentures or other contractual requirements or through either waiver by the Finance Director for up to 50 percent of the portfolio and waiver above 50 percent of the portfolio by the Finance Committee; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City shall not make purchases of more than $50,000 from companies that produce nuclear weapons, or their subsidiaries, based on publicly available information; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that public works contracts as governed by state law, contracts with another government entity, including the federal government and all of its related entities, are exempt from this provision; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Finance Director, for contracts between $50,000 and $250,000, may grant a waiver from this requirement if there is no reasonable alternative business that provides the required service;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Finance Committee may authorize a waiver for contracts above $250,000; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that contracts for essential public safety and enterprise services, such as IT software and hardware or radio and communications equipment, may be granted waivers by the Finance Director in consultation with the appropriate department head, regardless of contract size; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Finance Director will report to the Finance Committee annually on all waivers granted; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Finance Director shall take steps to educate City agency staff about companies that produce nuclear weapons through dissemination of information from publicly-available sources and establish policies that City agencies seek to avoid purchases from those companies or find alternative vendors for any existing contracts with these companies; and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the intent of the resolution is to limit city purchases from nuclear weapons producers, based on information from publicly available sources. For purposes of this resolution, the Finance Director shall define publicly-available sources and companies that produce nuclear weapons based on those sources.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that City Council, on behalf of the residents of Madison, call on the United States and our elected officials to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war via the following actions:
- Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, as required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 and specified in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) of 2017.
- Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.
- End the president's sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack.
- Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
- Cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. arsenal with enhanced weapons.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Madison call upon the State of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison College, Dane County and the Madison Metropolitan School District to stop investing in, or purchasing from, companies that produce nuclear weapons.