CNN World News

Greenpeace struggles against French nuclear testing

September 30, 1995
Web posted at: 10:32 a.m. EDT (1432 GMT)

From Correspondent John Raedler

PAPEETE, Tahiti (CNN)--Greenpeace is vowing to continue its campaign against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, despite a series of set-backs and some adverse publicity.

Greenpeace's protest resources are dwindling. It's lost two ships, two yachts and 24 inflatable boats that were confiscated by the French for entering territorial waters around the test sight. Along with its vessels, Greenpeace has also lost television transmission equipment and a helicopter.

These losses have caused dissent and at least one resignation in Greenpeace resulting in headlines such-as: "Greenpeace campaign in disarray" and "Greenpeace in N-test sackings." Greenpeace says the headlines are exaggerated.

"We've still got boats out at the testing zone. We've got more boats on the way, and even if we're left with just one placard, we'll keep going because we have to. This is madness, this is wrong, and that's why we are here," said Lynette Thorstensen, the new coordinator of the Greenpeace campaign . (148K AIFF sound or 148K WAV sound)

She said her organization is winning the battle. "Every time one of our boats is seized, that just serves to fan the flames of world opinion and outrage against these tests," said Thorstensen.

The Greenpeace campaign has provoked much criticism from local business and political leaders but much support from pro-independence Tahitians.

"Greenpeace's campaign is hurting our economy directly because again those images have been seen around the world," said Robert Tanseau a Tahitian businessman. "We have so many cancellations already made from tourist people around the world."

"No, I think it's a bunch of poppycock," said Nelson Ortas of the Tahitian Independence Movement. "For one, the Polynesian race represents 78 percent of this population. And the French and most of the commerce owners represent about 12 percent of the population. And the majority of the population want to end the nuclear testing on the islands."

Thorstensen said the French president is to blame for Tahiti's problems. "Greenpeace simply can't be held responsible for that. They are a peace organization. They are trying to stop this madness and it was Chirac who started it," she said. (85K AIFF sound or 85K WAV sound)

Thorstensen insists the Greenpeace campaign will continue. "Our determination continues. We are keeping on, keeping on."

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