10 Feb 2006

France lied about nuclear tests: Tahiti government commisssion

2:51 pm on 10 February 2006

A French Polynesian government inquiry has called for Paris to face up to its responsibilities on years of nuclear tests.

A Commission investigating the impact of the tests has presented its report to the territorial assembly.

It says classified defence information from 1965 to 1967 shows France lied to the local population in saying the open-air tests would not affect them.

Ben Lowings reports.

"The 300-page report finds that during the 46 aerial tests carried out until 1974, French scientists failed to predict that winds would blow fallout from the mushroom cloud to neighbouring inhabited atolls."

The report says monitoring equipment was incapable of detecting the level of fallout, which it says affected the whole territory.

The report says the French military left locals on Mangareva, Hao and Tureia in an extremely poor state.

The local inquiry said ministry of defence officials had tried to subvert their investigative visits by pressuring locals on Mangareva and Tureia, to destroy buildings existing from the time of the tests.

The report recommends France takes steps to rehabilitate the islands and lists how much radioactive material was dumped in the lagoons.

The Tahiti commission will meet national MPs in the French Parliament in Paris on the 21st of February to start negotiations on a full settlement for alleged victims.

The French defence ministry refused to allow the local MPs to investigate test sites at Mururoa and Fangataufa, which remain under army control.

After 1974 nuclear detonations went off underground using deep bore holes in the reef.