AA / Algiers / Houcemeddine Islèm
The file of French nuclear explosions is still the subject of Algerian complaints, official and from civil society, with the aim of revealing the places where the nuclear waste was stored and for the compensation of the victims.
France rejects Algerian claims and procrastinates in handing over maps of nuclear test and explosion sites
Although Paris considers what happened to be “simple nuclear tests”, Algiers, for its part, insists on calling them “nuclear explosions”
Despite the 59 years that have elapsed since the end of French colonization in Algeria, which lasted 132 years (1830-1962), the dossier of nuclear explosions carried out by the occupier in the desert of this Arab country still gives rise to criticism. controversy.
French colonization in Algeria spread between the 1830s and 1962 and the Algerian authorities as well as several historians argue that this period was the scene of crimes and assassinations perpetrated against about 5 million people, at the same time. to displacement campaigns and the looting of wealth.
The file of French nuclear explosions is still the subject of Algerian complaints, official and from civil society, with the aim of revealing the places where the nuclear waste was stored and for the compensation of the victims and the people who suffered. because of this disability for life, in return for a French rejection of these requests.
Although Paris considers what happened to be “simple nuclear tests”, Algiers, for its part, insists on calling them “nuclear explosions”.
“The Blue Gerboise”
The French colonial authorities carried out between 1960 and 1966 a series of nuclear explosions in the Algerian desert, explosions divided into 4 aerial experiments and 13 underground, according to French officials, while Algerian officials and historians estimate that the number of testing is higher.
On February 13, 1960, France carried out its first nuclear explosion in the Algerian desert in the region of Reggan, during an operation called “la Gerboise bleue”, and during which four nuclear bombs were used and which were of ‘an explosion capacity oscillating between 10 and 70 kilotons.
The explosion was carried out under the direct supervision of the then French President, General Charles de Gaulle, and the power of the aerial explosions carried out was four times greater than that generated by the American bomb dropped on Hiroshima in Japan in 1945.
Some of these nuclear explosions took place after the signing of the Evian Accords in 1962, and which had led Algeria to its independence, while including articles allowing France to use sites in the Sahara until 1967.
Four times the power of the Hiroshima bomb
Last February, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sabri Boukadoum, indicated that the power of France’s nuclear explosion in the desert of his country in the decade of the 1960s is equivalent to four times the power of the American nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.
The Algerian minister had published a tweet in which he wrote: “On this day (February 13) of the year 1960, at 07:40, colonial France carried out its first nuclear explosion in the region of Reggan in the Algerian desert ( south) during an operation called La Gerboise Bleue ”.
Boukadoum added that the explosion had a power of 70 kilotons, which is equivalent to a power three times or even four times higher than the bomb of Hiroshima. This explosion had repercussions in terms of radiation which is still going on ”.
57 nuclear explosions
The government review “The Sources of Contemporary Algerian History” reported in 2019 that the “Algerian Sahara was, between February 13, 1960 and February 16, 1966, the scene of 57 explosions and nuclear tests”.
“Four aerial tests took place in the area of Hammoudia in Reggan and which were extremely polluting and thirteen other tests were carried out at Taouriret Tan Afal, and at Iyen Aker but which had failed,” said the Scientific Review published by the Center government of Studies and Research on the National Movement and the Revolution of November 1, 1954.
The Review published by a Center under the Ministry of the Mujahedin (Veterans) added that “the worst nuclear incident took place on May 1, 1962 (Beryl) alongside 35 other nuclear safety tests that took place at Hammoudia wells and five explosions occurred on the site of Taouriret Tan Atram (province of Tamenghest) in the open air and using fissile materials such as plutonium ”.
The same source noted that “eleven nuclear explosions took place after Independence (1962) until February 1966. In June 1967, these sites were handed over to the Algerian authorities after the dismantling and cleaning of technical installations according to the French Ministry of Defense in 210 ”.
“France had carried out its nuclear explosions while fully aware of the dangers they represented for human health and the threats weighing on the environment and the ecological balance, in particular after the publication of the health impacts generated. by the nuclear bombardment on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 ”, further detailed the Review.
France began its first nuclear explosions in 1960, ignoring the 1959 United Nations Resolution hostile to the Paris tests in the Algerian desert, and despite suspensions by the United States of America and the former – USSR from their aerial nuclear explosions from November 1958.
Waste cards: a suspended demand
In the absence of precise data, observers argue that nuclear tests have killed 42,000 Algerians and caused lifelong disabilities due to nuclear radiation that pollutes the area until today.
The Algerian authorities are still demanding from their French counterparts the delivery of backfill cards for the waste from these explosions in order to protect the inhabitants and clean the region from radiation, but Paris is still procrastinating.
In 2020, the Algerian authorities officially submitted this file to the United Nations for the examination of compensation by France for victims of nuclear explosions but nothing has been done concretely yet, according to Kamel Belarbi, a former Algerian parliamentarian who has previously launched an initiative for a “criminalization of colonialism” law.
For his part, Algerian historian Amer Rkhila told Anadolu that “France began its attempts to belong to what is called ‘the Nuclear Club’ in 1935 and subsequently succeeded in detonating its first nuclear bomb dated February 13, 1960 in the Algerian desert ”.
“During the period from 1960 to 1966, the colonial forces dug trenches in southern Algeria to dump and backfill the nuclear waste that laid down vegetation and animals,” he further explained.
Rkhila said that “the crime of nuclear waste continues through the spread of disease, environmental pollution and the extinction of certain species of animals.”
Our interlocutor added that “Algeria has the right to claim the maps which determine the locations of the explosions and the trenches where the remains of the explosions and the radioactive materials are found which continue to have effects until today”.
He noted that “the number of victims of explosions is in the thousands but cannot be defined with precision since the media and human rights organizations do not have access to it”.
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