On Wednesday 28 July, the last day of his state visit to French Polynesia, President Emmanuel Macron wire of the nuclear tests France conducted in the Pacific Ocean between 1966 and 1996, a widely debated topic that, over time, led to requests for compensation and further investigations.
Various Polynesian organizations had requested during his visit that Macron apologize on behalf of France for these nuclear activities, which according to several studies had a serious impact on the environment and people’s health. The president did not offer an official apology, but said France was “a debt to French Polynesia” and demanded “truth”, “transparency” and better reparations for the families of the victims.
Then he added:
“I want to tell you clearly that the army that carried them did not lie to you (…) the unmeasured risks were taken, not even by the army (…) I think it is true that we would not have done the same tests at Cruz (French Division) In the region of New Aquitaine, on the mainland of France, so) or in Brittany. We did it here because it was far away, because it was (a place, so) lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean ».
French Polynesia is an “Overseas Group”, a territorial division of France with broad autonomy with the possibility of its own head of local government. In the second half of the twentieth century, France conducted 193 nuclear tests in this archipelago, of which 46 were in the atmosphere and 147 underground, mainly on the atolls of Mururoa and Fangatova. The consequences of these tests for people’s health are not yet fully understood.
The most important experiments were those conducted between 1966 and 1974, with atmospheric tests. After a series of international pressures, since 1974, atmospheric tests were abandoned and underground tests began. At the beginning of the 1990s, then French President Francois Mitterrand decided to stop the experiments, which were resumed in 1995 after the appointment of Jacques Chirac. The last test took place on January 27, 1996.
Between 2010 and 2018, the Nuclear Test Victims Compensation Commission: Received About 1,500 orders, mostly from the army. And only in 217 cases was compensation determined.
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