France to defend itself against nuclear tests complaint

3:49 pm on 13 October 2018

France says it will defend itself against allegations of crimes against humanity for its nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll.

Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll. Photo: AFP

The overseas minister, Annick Girardin, made the comment in the senate two days after French Polynesian opposition politician Oscar Temaru told a UN meeting in New York that a complaint had been lodged in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ms Girardin said France would defend itself and restate the facts, adding that it accepted its nuclear legacy with serenity.

France would also seek to condemn the misuse of the court's international jurisdiction for local political purposes, she said.

Work was being done on recommendations to ensure victims were compensated for illnesses caused by the tests, Ms Girardin said.

France carried out 193 tests in French Polynesia and more than 100,000 soldiers and civilians were involved in the testing programme between 1966 and 1996.

Two years ago, the Maohi Protestant church first announced that a case was being mounted to be taken to the ICC.

The French High Commissioner said the church's claims were baseless and the French Polynesian president said any action through international organisations would be pointless.

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