23 Aug 2005

Tahiti nuclear test veterans decry French move to stop inquiry

1:28 pm on 23 August 2005

The French Polynesian nuclear test veterans group, Mururoa e Tatou, says it is surprised that France wants to stop a planned inquiry into the legacy of its nuclear weapons test programme in the South Pacific.

Under new powers granted through the latest autonomy statute, the assembly decided to look into the tests after leaked defence ministry documents revealed details of the radiation exposure following the 1966 test.

The opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira called for a probe after the document became public.

But Roland Oldham of Mururoa e Tatou says the high commission in Papeete has asked the assembly to stop the inquiry.

"The government asking for this inquiry has been elected by a majority of Polynesians, so the least that France can do is to respect democracy."

Roland Oldham says the French request implies that the French government wants to hide the truth.