3 Mar 2009

French Polynesian call on France to recognise nuclear legacy

4:29 pm on 3 March 2009

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, says France should recognise that the fall-out from its atmospheric nuclear weapon tests affected more than just the immediate zone of the blasts.

The Depeche de Tahiti newspaper says he made the comment after his first visit to the French defence ministry in Paris where he was received by a top official.

He says the Marquesas as well as Rapa island were also affected by the tests.

Mr Temaru says there has been a change of heart in France where the government is now prepared to accept that the test regime has damaged some people's health.

He says earlier the onus was on the individual to prove that they suffered poor health because of the nuclear tests.

A French bill aimed at compensating victims is to be debated by the French Polynesian assembly.

Last November, France dropped its claim that its tests in the Pacific, which were carried out between 1966 and 1996, were clean, and nobody suffered any harm from them.