Macron flags higher nuclear test compo

Emmanuel Macron has flagged better compensation for victims of French nuclear tests in the Pacific.
Emmanuel Macron has flagged better compensation for victims of French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

A quarter of a century after France's last nuclear test in the South Pacific, President Emmanuel Macron floated the prospect of better compensation for the victims during a visit to the French territory.

"The nation owes a debt to French Polynesia," Macron said in Papeete on the island of Tahiti.

Representatives of the French state should also go to the most remote areas of the islands to locate victims and help them apply for compensation, he said.

France tested its first atomic bomb in Algeria in February 1960. Following Algerian independence, tests continued on the Pacific atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa, both parts of France, where a total of 193 nuclear tests took place.

During his visit to French Polynesia, Macron also emphasised that he wanted to create transparency. He promised to open the archives on the nuclear tests, though some particularly sensitive documents would have to remain secret, he said.

Former French president Francois Hollande in 2016 acknowledged the dire consequences of the tests on the environment and the health of the local population for the first time.

The anti-nuclear campaign group Association 193 said that Macron's speech had delivered nothing of significance. The opening of the archives, for example, had long been planned, it said.

Australian Associated Press