Insight '95. Mururoa. 1995-09-03.

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Tono kōrero mai

Gyles Beckford looks at French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll.

Thirty-five journalists from around the world are visiting Mururoa for an inspection of the atoll, hosted by the French in an attempt to counter the tide of political and public outrage about the decision by President Jacques Chirac to resume nuclear testing this month [September 1995].

The journalists were shown around Mururoa, and the neighbouring test site at nearby Fangataufa. The French General Paul Vericel says the reason for the tests is "nuclear deterrence" as part of a "world defence policy".

The Director of Military Affairs for the French Atomic Energy Commission, Jacques Buchar, says much of the negative reaction and protest has come from misinformation.

The journalists visit the Northern end of Mururoa Atoll, the site of some of the early atmospheric and the first underground tests. They also visit a large concrete bunker called "Denise", where two people were killed - differing accounts are given to the journalists in explanation. The area was contaminated from testing, which the French claim had been cleaned up. However Greenpeace saying it still is contaminated, and won't visit the area.

Fangataufa Atoll was the site of some of the most powerful atmospheric tests. The atoll has a bird colony on one side, and the French cite it as an example of how an environment can recover after nuclear blasts.

There is a visit to the barges used for transporting and situating the atomic bombs, and the small control room. The journalists are shown a video which explains the varied flora and fauna of the atoll, and promotes the 'harmlessness of nuclear testing', but there is no mention of what happens to the atoll when the bomb goes off underneath it. The French experts say that Mururoa Atoll can safely take a thousand more tests, and not show any negative effects.

Gyles Beckford speaks with three European journalists at the end of the visit. One says the French feel a need to justify themselves, and there is a lot of "window dressing" without real information. Another says the propaganda isn't very sophisticated. There was no debate about the morality of developing a nuclear arsenal.

For the past thirty years Tahiti has been the support base for the nuclear test programme, and has benefited from French official spending. Gyles Beckford met with French officials, and ordinary Tahitians. He asked the latter what they thought about the atomic tests. One man says it is too late to complain about the testing - they should have complained more at the beginning. A woman expresses concern for the local children, and worry about the future. She says the French government doesn't seem to care about the Tahitian people.

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Year 1995

Reference number 204881

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
Beckford, Gyles, Presenter
National Radio (N.Z.) (estab. 1986, closed 2007), Broadcaster

Duration 00:28:29

Date 03 Sep 1995

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