9 Jan 2013

Partial declassification of French nuke files recommended

2:20 pm on 9 January 2013

French Polynesia's nuclear test veterans organisation says the French commission in charge of the defence secret has recommended that 58 documents about the impact of the weapons tests be declassified.

The organisation and its French sister body, AVEN, want the full reports of the agencies in charge of radiological safety and biological control during the tests in the South Pacific from 1966 to 1996.

Moruroa e tatou says the request for access to the documents dates back to 2003 but after it had been rejected in 2010, it appealed its case in the French Supreme Court, which it says is the last stop before reaching the European Human Rights Court.

The organisation says this could have shaken up the defence ministry which is keen to prevent an internationalisation of France's nuclear weapons test file as was the case in 1972 when Australia and New Zealand took the practice of atmospheric testing to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Three years ago, a bid by French Polynesia's territorial assembly to get access to classified material was rejected by the then defence minister, Herve Morin.

He explained his rejection by saying detailed descriptions contained in the files could be of use to countries which are trying to develop nuclear weapons.