Lies on French Polynesia nuclear bombs admitted

Demonstrators against a French nuclear bomb test on Mururoa, in september 1995. AFP photo

This AFP photo shows demonstrators against a French nuclear bomb test on Mururoa island in French Polynesia, in september 1995.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

President of French Polynesia admits lies about nuclear testing

President Fritch of French Polynesia has acknowledged in the parliament in Tahiti that the population has been lied to for 30 years about the dangers of the nuclear tests that were held there. Between 1960 and 1996, France held 193 tests with atomic bombs in the overseas territory in the South Pacific.

The images of the mushroom cloud that rose above the Mururoa atoll were increasingly leading to international protests. In 2010, the French government released hundreds of millions of euros to compensate the residents of French Polynesia. The money was also destined for Algeria, where nuclear tests were also held.

“I can not be surprised that I have been called a liar for thirty years, we lied to the people that the nuclear tests were clean. We lied”, was the statement by President Edouard Fritch. Unknown is what brought Fritch to this confession.

On request, the United States news agency AP received no response from the French government to the statements by Fritch.

Radioactive radiation

The whistleblower Bruno Barrillot, who died last year, revealed that thyroid cancer and leukemia occur excessively among the 280,000 inhabitants of French Polynesia.

President Hollande visited French Polynesia two years ago. He acknowledged on that occasion that the nuclear tests had a harmful effect on human health and the environment. But he also praised the contribution that French Polynesia made to the fact that France became an international nuclear power.

Three years earlier, French newspapers reported on the basis of official documents released that the nuclear tests were much more harmful than the authorities had admitted.

Tahiti, the most famous Polynesian island that is often depicted on the paintings of Paul Gauguin, was exposed to radioactive radiation 500 times as high as the maximum permitted level.


12 thoughts on “Lies on French Polynesia nuclear bombs admitted

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  9. On June 13, 1995, the French government announced that it would resume nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific. French President Jacques Chirac decided to end the three-year moratorium on nuclear testing, citing France’s “higher interests,” just shy of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in World War Two—earning himself the hostile label “Hirochirac.”

    Chirac told the press that “all the civilian and military experts … were unanimous in telling me that if we wanted to assure the safety and reliability of our deterrent forces, if we wanted to move to a stage of simulating [nuclear tests] in laboratories, we were obliged to lift the moratorium.” He also stated that the tests would have no “ecological consequences,” in spite of one United Nations report which estimated that 150,000 had already died or would eventually die as a direct result of nuclear testing in the Pacific. The tests were supposedly run to provide enough information to improve nuclear technology without requiring more tests.

    In turning the South Pacific atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufaas into testing grounds, Paris followed the precedents established by its American and British rivals. Between 1946 and 1958, the US government detonated 66 nuclear bombs in the south Pacific—six islands were vaporized completely and others remained uninhabitable for decades afterward.

    Three months after the announcement, a French atomic bomb was detonated beneath Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific, on September 5. It sparked widespread opposition and protests took place in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia. The Tahitian capital of Papeete erupted into protests and riots. The same day, French naval commandos seized two ships owned by the environmental group Greenpeace to prevent them from sailing near the test site, about 750 miles southeast of Tahiti. They also arrested two Greenpeace divers who used rubber dinghies to enter the 12-mile exclusion zone around Moruroa.

    The day before the blast, the Tahitian capital of Papeete saw its largest demonstration ever against French nuclear testing, and many in the crowd called for French Polynesia’s independence from colonial rule. France has occupied the Society Islands since 1840, and in 1958 annexed them, declaring them an “overseas territory.”

    Chirac ended the nuclear testing program in January 1996, after six of the eight planned tests were completed.


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