10 Feb 2010

Tahiti test veterans blast French minister over comments and snub

1:30 pm on 10 February 2010

The French Polynesian nuclear test veterans organisation, Moruroa e Tatou, says it is shocked by the French call for the nuclear page to be turned.

This comes after last week's comment by the French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, that there should be no longer any talk about a nuclear debt for the aftermath of the more than 190 weapons tests in the Pacific.

Instead, she says, the French funds to reconvert the territory's economy after the end of the testing regime should be viewed as an expression of a new partnership.

But the head of Moruroa e Tatou, Roland Oldham, says as local politicians always want money from Paris, they first kept quiet during the testing and now about its consequences.

"We'll give you money, we'll keep your mouth shut. You don't talk about this, you don't talk about that. All the strings are being pulled by the French government and our politicians are just a sort of puppets."

Roland Oldham says he hopes local leaders will speak out against the new French compensation law which he says is inadequate.

He says Mrs Penchard left Tahiti at the weekend without cancelling her scheduled meeting with the veterans.