2 Dec 2008

French ministers challenged to volunteer for radiation exposure

12:29 pm on 2 December 2008

The opposition in French Polynesia has criticised aspects of the French government's proposal to recognise a link between nuclear weapons tests and radiation-induced illnesses.

In a statement, it has challenged several politicians, including the defence minister Herve Morin, to volunteer and expose themselves to radiation levels which they claim to be safe.

The statement says it is a scandal that the French proposal envisages to only consider people for compensation if they have received 50 millisievert of radiation while the maximum European standard is 20 millisievert.

Last month, France abandoned its claim that its nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific were clean and said it was drafting a law to consider paying compensation to test victims.

Several French courts have ruled in individual cases that a causal link existed between the weapon tests and illnesses but there had been no overarching recognition by France that this was the case.

Members of the French Polynesian opposition now attacking France had in the past defended the French stance that the tests caused no harm.