18 Apr 2006

French nuclear official defers trip to French Polynesia

5:30 am on 18 April 2006

A planned visit to French Polynesia by the French defence ministry's representative for nuclear safety, Marcel Jurien de la Graviere, has been deferred indefinitely.

"The official was due to arrive in Tahiti today [TUE NZ correct ] and travel to the former weapons test sites at Mururoa in the company of members of the local territorial assembly."

His visit had been confirmed by the French overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, two weeks ago, but is now on hold because of what local radio describes as the current political context.

France has repeatedly said it would deal with the health concerns of former test site workers but the main veterans' group says 40 years after atmospheric atomic blasts were launched, the Frech state is yet to accept any responsibility.

The assembly published a report into the 41 atmospheric tests two months ago, with the French defence ministry refusing all co-operation.