7 Feb 2006

France invites MPs to nuclear test site to discuss nuclear test issues - report

2:39 pm on 7 February 2006

The French defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, has reportedly invited French Polynesian MPs and organisations to meet in Mururoa Atoll to discuss the consequences of nuclear weapons testing.

France's last nuclear detonation took place just over 10 years ago in Mururoa, which is still under army control.

Ben Lowings reports.

"The daily newspaper La Depeche de Tahiti reports the information comes in a letter to French Polynesia's member of the French Assembly, Beatrice Vernaudon."

Mrs Alliot-Marie is quoted as saying she wants to calm the passions that have arisen in the debate about the consequences of nuclear testing.

The ministry of defence has refused to cooperate with the French Polynesian government's inquiry into nuclear testing, which will publish its report on Friday.

Leaked excerpts from the report suggest France carried out more tests than it declared, and that fallout reached Tahiti.

Mrs Alliot-Marie is said to favour using the French High Commissioner in Tahiti as a mediator, in a meeting at Mururoa.

The defence ministry says it will publish a dossier on nuclear testing in the northern Autumn.

A representative of the French nuclear safety authority, Marcel Jurien de la Gravière, is to make a week-long visit to French Polynesia.