7 Jul 2011

France reacts to Tahiti nuclear compensation demands

1:28 pm on 7 July 2011

The French authorities have responded to a claim by a French Polynesian assembly vice president, Hiro Tefaarere, that the territory's Social Welfare Fund was to seek millions of dollars in compensation for illnesses caused by France's nuclear weapons tests.

Mr Tefaarere said the Fund had spent 320 million US dollars on more than 5,000 patients over 30 years because of the tests bu the French high commissioner, Richard Didier, doubts all cancer cases can be attributed to the tests.

The defence ministry in Paris says work has been started between the French state and the Fund in Tahiti on how those deemed eligible for compensation can be paid.

The ministry says France is yet to get a response to its initiative.

Two years ago, France recognised for the first time that its weapons tests weren't clean but to date only one compensation claim has been recognised.

France tested nearly 200 nuclear weapons in French Polynesia before winding up its programme in 1996.