Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nuclear Issues: French government to compensate victims of past nuclear tests

The French government will compensate victims of past nuclear tests and has earmarked an initial EUR 10 million to do so, Defence Minister Herve Morin was quoted as saying on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The French state had long refused to officially recognise a link between its testing of nuclear bombs, which ended in 1996, and health complaints reported by both military and civilian staff involved in the tests.

"(French) governments believed for a long time that opening the door to compensation would pose a threat to the very significant efforts made by France to have credible nuclear deterrent," Morin told Le Figaro newspaper.

"But it was time for France to be true to its conscience," he said.

France tested nuclear weapons in Algeria between 1960 and 1966, then in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean between 1966 and 1996. It conducted a total of 210 tests.

Morin said in November that he planned to present a bill in 2009 setting out the terms of compensation schemes but he had previously given few details.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency

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