19 May 2005

France rejects negligence claims over Tahiti atomic tests

1:40 pm on 19 May 2005

The French defence ministry has reacted to the leak of confidential records of a 1966 French nuclear weapons test in the South Pacific, saying all safety measures were in place to protect military personnel and civilians in the area.

It issued the statement after the association of test veterans presented leaked defence ministry documents in Tahiti which contain correspondence about the risk of the weapons tests.

The ministry says precautions were taken in line with regulations in force at the time.

The veterans' group, Mururoa e Tatou, says the French military doctors advised that residents of Mangareva, including pregnant women and the elderly, be evacuated.

But it says the defence officials refused to act for fear of jeopardising the weapons testing programme at Mururoa.

The military carried out 41 atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific and Mururoa e Tatou has asked for the test records to be released.