Algerians used by France for nuclear tests: report
Soldiers and civilians were exposed to radiation deliberately
The French army used soldiers and civilians as guinea pigs to test the effects of nuclear bombs a confidential report revealed, said French newspaper Le Parisien.
As France marked 50 years since its first nuclear explosion on Tuesday, the full report was released by Le Parisien. The military report stated that soldiers were knowingly exposed to radiation. The aim was "to study physiological and psychological effects produced on man by nuclear weapons, so as to obtain necessary information to physically and mentally prepare modern warriors."
Between 1960 and 1966, 17 bombs were tested and hundreds of soldiers and approximately 30,000 Algerian civilians exposed to harmful radiation.
According to an excerpt of the report titled “Gerboise verte,” (green jerboa) the name of the last open air nuclear test on April 25, 1961, French soldiers were sent to within 900 feet of where a bomb was detonated to "study the possibility of launching an attack in contaminated zones."
French Defense Minister Hervé Morin told France Info radio "There is nothing new in this report, the ministry disclosed all of this in 2007. That was another time and we would of course not do things the same today. All of this happened 50 years ago and we cannot analyze this with our 2010 vision. The life of these soldiers was not put at risk." The minister told Le Parisien that, although not aware of the report, he believes the radiation levels that the test subjects had been exposed to were low.
There is nothing new in this report, the ministry disclosed all of this in 2007. That was another time and we would of course not do things the same today. All of this happened 50 years ago and we cannot analyze this with our 2010 vision. The life of these soldiers was not put at risk
French Defense Minister Hervé Morin
Jean-Paul Tessonnier, the affected veterans' lawyer, believes the report could greatly impact compensation amounts.
In December of last year, the French Parliament passed a new law offering compensation to army veterans.
Tessonnier, claims France’s official position has always been that radioactive contamination was unintentional collateral damage. Compensation debates have always been influenced by this position. However, were the exposure to be intentional, compensations would be estimated very differently.
Patrice Bouveret, president of the National Armaments Observatory, added that the report proves that test subjects were not only exposed intentionally but also sent home without proper medical care.
"It is time for the French government to be transparent on the nuclear tests in Algerian Sahara and the dramatic consequences they had on populations and on the environment," Ammar Mansouri, a researcher at the Nuclear Research Center of Algeria told AFP.
Mansouri called for all relevant documents to be declassified and brought to light and for France to take full responsibility for its actions.
"Contrarily to France's official position, there have been 57 explosions, not 17, because 40 additional tests were performed using plutonium," Mansouri added.
It is time for the French government to be transparent on the nuclear tests in Algerian Sahara and the dramatic consequences they had on populations and on the environment
Ammar Mansouri, researcher at the Nuclear Research Center