27 Jan 2006

France defends nuclear test safety record amid fallout claim in new report

9:13 am on 27 January 2006

The French high commission in French Polynesia says the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific were carried out amid continued concern for the protection of the population and those working on the test sites.

The statement was issued in Papeete after local newspapers printed excerpts of a report by the territorial assembly which was produced following a six month investigation based on independent sources but without the co-operation of the French defence ministry.

The report says nuclear bombs which exploded above Mururoa and Fangataufa in the 1960s and 1970s appear to have caused fallout in Tahiti, which is the territory's most populated island.

The high commission says the French state has always shown its will to have an open dialogue and transparency but upholds the law concerning classified information.

Last August, the French high commission and the opposition in the territory took court action in a bid to stop the assembly probe, claiming it lacked the statutory powers for such an investigation.