24 Nov 2008

Mururoa o tatou welcomes nuclear tests compensation plan

10:27 am on 24 November 2008

French Polynesia's nuclear test veterans' group, Mururoa o tatou, has welcomed news that the French government plans to introduce a law to set up a compensation fund for those suffering poor health as a result of the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific.

Such a law is expected to be tabled early next year and could pave the way for France to recognise a causal link between the tests and the prevalence of conditions such as thyroid cancer.

The head of the veterans' group, Roland Oldham, says the announcement suggests that France will at last drop its claim that its weapons tests were clean.

Mr Oldham says in contrast, the United States recognises 31 different types of cancer as a possible result of its testing regime.

He says the French government move may also be to pre-empt a cross-party initiative on the issue.

So far, more than two dozen different French court rulings recognised individual complaints that health problems were the result of the weapons tests but to date the French government has dismissed the findings.

Tens of thousands of French servicemen were deployed in the South Pacific during the 30-year test regime which ended in 1996.