On December 19th, one of the 20 companies involved in the US nuclear weapons business, CH2M Hill, was taken over by another company, Jacobs Engineering. Jacobs is a large US-based company with numerous, large-scale military contracts. In September of this year, Jacobs (together with Honeywell) took over the contract previously held by CH2M Hill (together with AECOM, BWX Technologies and Northrop Grumman) to run the former Nevada Test Site, where US nuclear weapons were tested from 1951 to 1992. The Nevada site, now known as the ‘Nevada Nuclear Security Site’, is still a key facility for the development and production of US nuclear weapons.
Jacob’s Engineering, which boasts its “strict dedication to safety and uncompromising ethics”, has more than 54,000 employees in 24 countries. Eleven of these countries have already signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, making everything to do with the development and production of these weapons strictly illegal. What will happen to Jacob’s Engineering and their standing in these countries once their parliaments have actually ratified the treaty and passed national legislation to enforce it?
Jacobs is a good example of a company based in the US and working on US nuclear weapons, which is nonetheless highly vulnerable to the effects of the new treaty even if the US never signs it. Some of the countries where Jacobs has its operations are not only signatories to the Treaty, but at the forefront of international efforts to ban nuclear weapons. New Zealand, for instance, banned US ships from bringing nuclear weapons into New Zealand waters back in 1987, and has stuck with this policy ever since, despite enormous pressures from the United States.
The countries where Jacobs will be breaking national laws by continuing to engage in nuclear weapons-related work, even though that work takes place in the US, are:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Soon, there will be more countries added to this list. And, of course, many more companies besides Jacobs will be affected by the fact that nuclear weapons and everything to do with these weapons is now considered illegal by a majority of the world’s countries.