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France defeats the latest attempt to conduct a survey of the effects of French nuclear testing in the Pacific

CHRIS CLARKE: France has managed to defeat the latest attempt to carry out an international survey of the effects of French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Earlier today, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a huge French lobby managed to defeat a proposal for a European Community survey put forward by a British Labour member, Steven Hughes. Mr Hughes says all previous research has been controlled by France, but his motion was defeated by a pretty convincing margin. Here's our correspondent in Europe, Lee Duffield.

LEE DUFFIELD: The European Parliament attracts as many lobby groups as any other. A delegation of German women peace activists turned out in the lobby to support Steven Hughes' proposal. He told the members from 12 European countries, including France, that a United Nations study had predicted 15,000 people in the southern hemisphere would eventually die as a result of nuclear tests carried out by Britain, the United States and France. Other evidence was scarce, but under his proposal, the member countries of the European Community would be asked to pay for an extensive program carried out by doctors and scientists. He said later there had been resistance to his proposal from conservative members who distrusted probes into nuclear weapons or the nuclear industry, and from French members who did not want the European Parliament to override their own national interests.

STEVEN HUGHES: I think that there is sufficient evidence to cause doubt over French claims that the tests have not had any environmental or health impact in that region. In fact, I'll go further, and I would point out the way in which all normal reportage of health statistics ceased on the commencement of testing in the region. I would point out that the Home Medical Service in French Polynesia is under control of the French military, and I would go so far as to say, as I've said in this place, that I think what we've got is a massive exercise in the suppression of evidence that, in fact, there has been an impact on the health of the people.

There has been an impact on the environment of the region, and we need to get in there now and see just how bad that impact has been and to take remedial action. We've had over 150 explosions - sorry, an equivalent of 150 kilotons of nuclear explosions in the atoll of Mururoa. Now, this is a coral atoll; it is a leaky, geological structure, and two New Zealand scientists, geothermal engineers, Professors Hochstein and O'Sullivan at Auckland, have said on the basis of their computer model, that we could have geological collapse effectively. We could have heavy pollution by radionuclides from Mururoa within 100 years. Now, I think that's a big problem we're facing.

CHRIS CLARKE: Steven Hughes, British Labour member of the European Parliament, and he was talking to our correspondent in Europe, Lee Duffield.