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Tuesday November 30, 2021

France’s 1960s nuclear tests in Algeria still poison ties

By AFP
July 30, 2021

Algiers: More than 60 years since France started its nuclear tests in Algeria, their legacy continues to poison relations between the North African nation and its former colonial ruler.

The issue has come to the fore again after President Emmanuel Macron said in French Polynesia on Tuesday that Paris owed "a debt" to the South Pacific territory over atomic tests there between 1966 and 1996.

The damage the mega-blasts did to people and nature in the former colonies remains a source of deep resentment, seen as proof of discriminatory colonial attitudes and disregard for local lives.

"Diseases related to radioactivity are passed on as an inheritance, generation after generation," said Abderahmane Toumi, head of the Algerian victims’ support group El Gheith El Kadem.

"As long as the region is polluted, the danger will persist," he said, citing severe health impacts from birth defects and cancers to miscarriages and sterility. France carried out its first successful atomic bomb test deep in the Algerian Sahara in 1960, making it the world’s fourth nuclear power after the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain.