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Outcry in Tahiti over nuclear fallout study

Outcry in Tahiti over nuclear fallout study 16 March 2021 Walter Zweifel, RNZ Pacific Reporter   There is renewed alarm in French Polynesia over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.
There is renewed alarm in French Polynesia over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

For test veteran groups, the latest findings by Disclose confirmed that France had been economical with the truth.

At the heart of their campaign is the push for compensation, which has been a decade-long battle over measured and measurable fallout.

The Disclose assessment, if accepted, would make thousands more sick people eligible for compensation, and incur on France an obligation to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru said he denounced the tests all along and claims that the Disclose study proves that contamination extended to all inhabited islands as well as to other Pacific countries.

According to him, the test legacy should be raised by the Pacific Islands Forum.

Temaru furthermore pointed to the UN resolution of 2013 which put French Polynesia on the decolonisation list.

He argued that France had to report to the UN about the health and environmental impact of its 193 nuclear weapons tests.

Temaru accused France of duplicity in the way it dealt with French Polynesia and also took a swipe at the territory’s rival political side, which defended the tests.

A former president Gaston Flosse admitted he travelled the Pacific to reassure the region of the tests’ safety, but said he would now oppose the tests with physical force if he had known what price the territory had to pay.

In a statement, Flosse said on one hand that if the Disclose study was correct then France lied to French Polynesians for years.

On the other hand, he said France must re-examine all compensation claims that have been rejected, and should also scrap the compensation law because its very basis no longer existed.

The French Atomic Energy Commission, the French defence minister and the French High Commissioner in French Polynesia have largely dismissed the Disclose study.

In essence, they saw no new elements or said the existing studies had taken all relevant information into account.

The French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch expressed surprise at the virulent reaction in Tahiti.

However, nearly three years ago he told the assembly that he himself had been telling lies about the tests for decades.

For now, the French compensation commission will continue to pay compensation within the established framework, benefiting at best dozens of people.

Compensation is paid out of a sense of national solidarity not because the French state recognises any liability.

March 17, 2021 - Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war

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