Nuclear testing update

France: Fifth nuclear test

On 27 December 1995, the French government conducted the fifth nuclear test in 1995 which was "equivalent to less than 30 kilotons] of conventional explosives", according to Reuters/ Australian seismologists, registered a 5.3 magnitude on the Richter scale. The blast was roughly double the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

STOP PRESS: on 27 January, the sixth test was conducted at Fangataufa. The blast was equivalent to 120 kilotons which is ten times the Hiroshima bombing. Allegedly, this should have been the last French nuclear testing, if French government's announcements are credible.

On the occasion of the fifth test, French officials repeated to explain that the tests were needed to develop simulation technology on computers to make future test blasts unnecessary.

In fact, the tests - as well as the simulation technology mentioned - are designed to develop new nuclear warheads for future weaponry systems of the French air force, naval forces (particularly regarding the new class of submarines and the TN-75 nuclear warhead), and so-called mini-nukes strategically foreseen for a French version of NATOs new counterproliferation strategy.

French governmental promises to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, expected by the end of 1996, and the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty, neither do justify actual nuclear testing nor the French military nuclear programme. Nor does French President Chirac's statement that France will probably conduct six tests, down from the eight originally planned. France ruling Gaullist party hailed Chirac's "determination to guarantee France's independence and the security of the French people." The opposition Socialists said protests abroad and at home, plus the cost of the tests, "point to a gross political blunder".

Note that French Defense Minister Charles Millon, however, stated there may be a seventh test in February. Independent sources expect that, with an envisaged 150 kto blast, this test might be the strongest of the series. Greenpeace and some other observers say it's expected the final French test in the present series will occur in late January, 1996 - just before negotiation for the signing of the CTBT resume. Elsewhere, it has been mooted that "other testing" may continue after the date of the "final" weapons test.

Earlier in December, the European Union (EU) voted for a UN resolution urging an immediate end to nuclear tests, saying it had no legal impact. The UN General Assembly had voted 85-18 to approve a resolution which "strongly deplores" nuclear testing and "strongly urges" an end to all tests. It did not name any states, but France and China are the only two still testing.

Australia has spearheaded protest among South Pacific nations against the French tests. Forty-three countries abstained and 31 were not present. Concerning the EU voting, nuclear-armed Britain joined France in voting against the resolution, while Germany, Greece and Spain abstained. But the other 10 EU countries backed the resolution.

Also in December, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) reported that a total of 228 organisations and coalitions supporting its international boycott campaign against French goods and services. IPB offers a variety of campaign materials, including lists of companies engaged in contract work at the French test site, as well as of companies who have declared themselves against the tests. On the occasion, IPB underlines that it supports only actions that are nonviolent and non-racist in character. For more, contact IPB at:
International Peace Bureau
Rue de Zurich 41
C-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel. (41-22) 731 6429
Fax: (41-22) 738 9419,

Chinese plans for a nuclear test

Japan-based media sources reported in mid-January China is planning an underground nuclear test on February 19. the same sources said that a site in Xinjiang in northwestern China was ready for the test. Usually, China carries out tests either between May and June or from September ta October. The unusual timing could be a hint that partly, Beijing wants to test before a CTBT could be concluded later this year. A few days earlier, Wu Xueqian, a Chinese senior official, indicated that his government would not unconditionally sign the CTBT saying that China "cannot accept that other countries impose an unequal treaty content, that the US and others make unreasonable demands."

Meanwhile, China was accused for planning a military attack on Taiwan: "The Chinese leadership has sent unusually explicit warnings to the United States that China has completed plans for a limited attack on Taiwan that could be mounted in the weeks after Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, wins the first democratic balloting for the presidency in March", a "New York Times" article of 23 January reads. The newspaper referred to Chas. W. Freeman Jr., a former assistant secretary of defense, who, after a visit to China, was said to have informed the US President's national security adviser, W. Anthony Lake, "that the People's Liberation Army had prepared plans for a missile attack against Taiwan consisting of one conventional missile strike a day for 30 days." The linkage to China military nuclear power can be drawn from Mr. Freeman's assertion that "some in Beijinq may be prepared to engage in nuclear blackmail" against the USA. Freeman quoted a Chinese official as asserting that China could act militarily against Taiwan without fear of intervention by the USA because US leaders "care more about Los Angeles that they do about Taiwan." Freeman characterized this statement as an indirect threat by China to use nuclear weapons against the USA.

Is India to prepare nuclear testing?

By mid-December last year, the US daily "The New York Times" (NYT) reported that "India is preparing for its first nuclear test in 21 years In d move some see as muscle-flexing to impress neighboring Pakistan and keep the current Indian government in power". Allegedly, US spy satellites have noted preparations for the test in India's Rajasthan desert in recent weeks, but couldn't determine whether the test involve exploding a nuclear bomb or some other facet of nuclear weapons testing, NYT reported US governmental sources as saying. In response, India categorically said it was not planning to conduct a second nuclear test and asserted that the question of deployment of the "Prithvi" missile would arise depending upon the situation.

India says it has the capability to build a nuclear weapon but has chosen not to do so. US experts, however, say both India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947, could easily assemble nuclear bombs.

It can't be excluded that the assumption India would prepare for a nuclear test is a disinformation campaign designed to pressurize on India with regard to the CTBT negotiations, as well as to the upcoming Indian General Elections. Indian government officials, however, denied to prepare a nuclear test.

US 'sub-critical' testing

On 18 June this year, the USA is to start a series of at least six "zero-yield" hydro-nuclear tests at the Nevada test site. There will certainly be anti-test activities in the USA - and BAN would be happy to receive any reports on corresponding actions planned in the US and elsewhere. To mark :he first test, the German sister-organisation of American Peace Test, the "Atomteststopp-Kampagne" (ATSK: Nuclear Test Stop Campaign), is organizing a blockade of the German US Military Ba;e at Ramstein on 15 or 16 June.

For more, contact:

Monika Loffler
Staudernheimer Str. 1
D-55571 Odernheim, Germany
Tel. (49-6755) 1645 or via Eirene office (49-6755) 1735


Half a million test victims Some 500,000 people in Kazakhstan have been victimized by previous nuclear tests conducted in this former Soviet republic, according to a statement by the republic's President, Nursultan Nasarbayev, made at a UNESCO General Conference in Paris on 15 November last year. Nasarbayev called for aid for the education of scientists in order to "eliminate the damage was caused by nuclear testing." His country is ready, he said, to set up a scientific centre for the research on human health and environment.

World Court Project update