14 Feb 2006

UN nuclear watchdog should probe tests, says French Polynesia opposition

1:12 pm on 14 February 2006

The opposition in French Polynesia says the French defence ministry should ask the United Nations nuclear watchdog to carry out a new study into atomic testing.

The leader of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party, Gaston Flosse, says the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, would give a more precise account of nuclear tests than the government's inquiry made public last week.

Mr Flosse says there's no proof that airborne tests in the 1960s and 1970s affected people's health through drifting fallout.

He says the IAEA deemed aerial tests to have exploded at such a height that the fireball didn't touch the surface.

The report last week said classified defence ministry information showed France had lied to locals about the danger posed by fallout.

Mr Flosse says keeping defence records secret is a necessity, and he asks whether the Americans have opened their files up to the people of Bikini Atoll, or the British to the Australian aborigines.