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PERSPECTIVE ON NUCLEAR TESTING : Stop the Rape of the South Pacific : France's intent to resume testing is an act of colonial aggression against the welfare of 28 million non-Europeans.

June 25, 1995|ENI F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA | Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) is a member of the International Relations Committee

French President Jacques Chirac has announced that France will abandon its 1992 moratorium on nuclear testing and explode eight more nuclear bombs in the South Pacific beginning in September.

Like a wild boar on the ocean waves, Chirac asserted that the nuclear explosions will have no "ecological consequences" and said his decision was "irrevocable.

We all know that nuclear bombs have only one purpose: to annihilate everything, including people. The people of France know this. The government of France knows this. President Chirac knows this. And we all know why France explodes its bombs in French Polynesia and not in France. No one wants their homeland subjected to this danger if they have a choice.

Historically, the people of the Pacific have had little choice. Nuclear nations, including France and the United States, have consistently deemed Pacific Islanders and their way of life expendable. For example, in 1954, on Bikini atoll, the United States detonated the "Bravo Shot," a 15-megaton thermonuclear bomb a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Marshall Islanders residing on nearby Rongelap and Utirik atolls justifiably believe that they were used as guinea pigs for U.S. nuclear radiation experiments during this period.

After 20 years of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, French Polynesia's Moruroa atoll has become a "Swiss cheese of fractured rock," and scientists predict leakage of radioactive waste from the underground test sites to the surrounding waters and air. Epidemic-like outbreaks in surrounding communities have already resulted, with symptoms including damage to the nervous system, paralysis, impaired vision and increased cancer rates, particularly among Tahitians.

France, in the truest form of colonial aggression, has conducted almost all of its nuclear explosions in the South Pacific; not one of its 200-plus nuclear bomb detonations has been on, above or beneath French soil.

Chirac says that test-exploding eight more nuclear bombs in the South Pacific is crucial to ensure the reliability and security of France's stockpile, the world's third-largest. "I made this decision," he has said, "because I considered it necessary in the higher interest of our nation." Whatever happened to the higher interest of non-nuclear nations?

I say to the military Establishment of France and to the president of France, if exploding eight more nuclear bombs is so crucial to ensure the security of your country's weaponry, then explode your eight nuclear bombs under the Arc de Triomphe and see if the citizens of France will support you "in the higher interest" of your nation.

Just two months ago the major nuclear powers, including the United States and France, promised the 170 non-nuclear nations to exercise "utmost restraint" with regard to nuclear testing and work toward a comprehensive test ban treaty. Despite reservations, these commitments were accepted at face value by the non-nuclear nations, and it was only with their support that permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was gained. Now the French government states its willingness to undermine that treaty. Not only does France send the message that world peace takes a back seat to national paranoia; it also shamelessly deems expendable the welfare and the fragile environment of 28 million non-European people.

Nuclear explosions constitute the ultimate rape of a people. For France to disregard its moral responsibility to the world community is annihilation in its ugliest form.

This planet has already been ravaged by more than 2,036 nuclear bomb explosions. And now the United States is considering the resumption of nuclear testing. This madness must stop.

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