Not violating any international convention
THERE have been reports and letters in the South China Morning Post recently, concerning the resumption of nuclear tests announced by the French Government. In several instances, what has been said does not reflect the true situation and I feel compelled to set the record straight: In resuming its tests, France violates no international convention or commitment. France is a member of the 'nuclear club' recognised as such by all the nations of the world who have signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. Therefore, its decision can't be used as a precedent by other countries.
The series of tests which is going to be held is limited in three ways: in number (eight), in time (it will be over next year), and in scope - the tests are not made in order to develop new weapons or improve the existing ones, but to ensure the reliability of our deterrent and enable the technicians to design for the future a system of tests by simulation (that is, not requiring actual explosions).
France has also announced it will sign the 'Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty' as early as 1996. This commitment is in line with the active role France plays in negotiations for disarmament concerning all categories of weapons. But owing to its long experience in international relations, France favours balanced disarmament, and not disarmament which would put its security and international stability at risk.
The tests are held on French territory, in the middle of the South Pacific, one of the world's less populated areas.
All precautions are being taken to reduce to nothing the effects on the environment.
The countries most vocal in their protests against these tests are very far away from the sites: more than 4,500 km for New Zealand and 7,000 km for Australia. By comparison, Hong Kong is 2,500 km away from the test site of Lob Nor, where China made its latest nuclear test one month ago.
LAURENT AUBLIN French Consul-General