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France's 4th nuclear test ignites global anger

nuclear testing

November 22, 1995
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT)

From Correspondent Peter Humi

PARIS (CNN) -- France's latest nuclear test has sparked outrage from nations across the Pacific rim and around the world.

Mururoa atoll

The fourth in a planned series of nuclear tests was detonated on the Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific late Tuesday evening, Paris time.

A statement from the defense ministry in Paris said the underwater blast, the fourth since the summer, was the equivalent of 40,000 tons of TNT.

Japan, Australia, and New Zealand all summoned the French ambassadors to their respective countries to protest once again the continuing French nuclear testing program.

"I'm exasperated, frustrated, and extremely disappointed that we continue to go through this almost charade of bringing in the French ambassador," said New Zealand's Foreign Minister Don MacKinnon. "But it's important for us that we convey to the French government, through their representative here, how we feel on this issue."

Also in New Zealand, Greenpeace spokesman Michael Szabo said French President Jacques Chirac had given the international community a slap in the face.

"Chirac's ignorance of international politics and arrogant disregard for the millions of people around the world protesting against nuclear testing is obscene," Szabo said.

Mururoa atoll

Environmentalists argue the testing is unnecessary and dangerous to a region known for its crystalline waters and rich marine life.

Students in Seoul, South Korea, pelted the French embassy with eggs, and the Evangelical Church in French Polynesia itself criticized the tests, saying they only served to promote future wars.

Less than a week ago, at a United Nations disarmament committee meeting, 95 countries voted in favor of a resolution banning nuclear testing immediately. Among those voting for the ban were Belgium and Italy, two of France's European Union neighbors.

In retaliation for the vote, Chirac abruptly canceled a summit meeting with his Italian counterpart, which was due to be held this week.

Chirac has said France needs to conduct the tests to improve its computer simulation technology that will make future testing unnecessary.

Two more tests in French Polynesia are expected before the end of May, when Paris has promised it will sign an international test ban treaty.

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