4 Aug 2008

Britain admits radiation-related deaths following 1950's nuclear blasts

11:30 am on 4 August 2008

An admission by Britain's Ministry of Defence that servicemen were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation in the Pacific in the 1950s is being described as a minute step forward.

Papers filed at the High Court in London reveal the Ministry now believes nuclear tests in Australia and at Christmas Island in Kiribati were responsible for some deaths.

However, it insists only 159 men out of the 20,000 who were present were exposed to dangerous radiation levels.

Roy Sefton, the president of the New Zealand arm of the Nuclear Test Veterans Association, says the Ministry had no choice but to make the admission after years of repeated denials.

Mr Sefton says it's a case of science finally catching up with the authorities.