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Soldiers deliberately exposed to nuclear tests, says report

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-02-16

According to the Tuesday edition of the French daily Parisian, a confidential military report proves that soldiers were deliberately exposed to nuclear tests that France conducted in Algeria in the 1960s.

Soldiers were deliberately exposed to nuclear tests conducted by France in Algeria during the 1960s to “study the physiological and psychological effects of atomic weaponry on humans,” according to a report exposed by the French daily Le Parisian on Tuesday.

The “confidential report”, entitled “The beginnings of the organization and experimentations in the Sahara” were drafted “by one or several military personnel” and “dated 1998” after the tests had ceased, according to Le Parisien.

An excerpt published in the newspaper refers to the “Gerboise verte", code name for the test firings of April 25, 1961. It states that the experiment “should allow for a study of the physiological and psychological effects of atomic weaponry on humans, with the goal obtaining the necessary elements to prepare physically and morally for modern combat.”

Defence Minister Hervé Morin said in an interview with Le Parisien that he had no knowledge of this report, saying that he only become aware of it because of information that came to light during a trial in which victims' families demanded reparations."

He added, "The (radioactive) dosages received during the tests were very low. Nonetheless, he said, "10 million Euros have been allocated [for indemnities]," he added. "We can increase this figure if necessary."

France conducted 210 nuclear tests in total, beginning with the one in the Sahara in 1960 and ending as late as 1996 in French Polynesia. Thousands of soldiers believe themselves to have suffered radioactive contamination, and have demanded justice.

Date created : 2010-02-16