1 Dec 2014

French Polynesia assembly rebuked for compo call

4:43 pm on 1 December 2014

The French high commissioner in Tahiti has rebuked the French Polynesian assembly for passing a resolution, which calls on France to pay compensation for the environmental damage caused by its 193 nuclear weapons tests.

Lionel Beffre says the resolution is astonishing and while it can be seen as an unfriendly gesture towards the French state, it is the result of special circumstances that he needs to explain to Paris.

It was tabled by the ruling anti-independence Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party, but failed to get the territorial government's support in what is seen as the biggest ever rift within the party.

The votes needed for it to pass came from the pro-independence camp, which says it will now take the resolution to this week's meeting of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in New York.

In his response, Mr Beffre dismissed calls for rent payments for the former test sites of Moruroa and Fangataufa as legally flawed, saying the two atolls were excised in 1964 and are now part of France's inalienable domain.

The resolution calls for France to own up to its nuclear past and for international experts to determine the compensation sum.

The draft called for about one billion US dollars, which the opposition says is far too little.