It’s close to midnight. The captain, Pete Willcox, and many other crew members are already asleep. A few others, including the photographer Fernando Pereira, are still chatting around the mess-room table, sharing between them the last two bottles of beer.
Suddenly, the lights go out. There’s the sharp crack of breaking glass. Then, a sudden roar of water. The crew’s first thought: We’ve been hit, possibly by a tug.
Then, there’s a second explosion. — Greenpeace, “The Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior“
After the Rainbow Warrior Attack and French Nuke Tests, Les Responsables Thrived in the Homeland.
Thirty years ago this month, France conducted an act of state-sponsored terror on a Western ally, and other members of this free, democratic non-communist alliance would eventually turn a blind eye to the deed and help France escape with impunity.
The tale is well commemorated in the report published recently in The New Zealand Herald, “Rainbow Warrior—30 Years On.” Some of the highlights from the in-depth article are listed below:
- Evidence shows that the operation was ordered at the highest level by President Francois Mitterand.
- Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira drowned when the boat sank.
- The French had long been antagonized by New Zealand and Australia’s protests against nuclear testing in the South Pacific, and especially by New Zealand prime minister David Lange’s (in office from 1984 to 1989) principled and vocal opposition.
- The operation was clumsily executed, tripped up by the agents’ inability to operate in a calm and orderly environment where people noticed outsiders and took down license plate numbers when they saw suspicious people.
- The French were caught red-handed, and blame quickly passed up the chain of command. France paid compensation and had to accept the convictions for manslaughter and other high crimes, but they would eventually keep their loyalty to their agents and extract them from their prison cells.
- The French used economic and diplomatic warfare to pressure New Zealand. When it became obvious that the French had muscled the EU into slapping a boycott on New Zealand agricultural products, New Zealand had to put priority on saving its economy, so the prisoners were all soon back in France. One of them is the brother of the current Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal. The perpetrators and the French intelligence and political establishment remain unapologetic, and have always maintained their attitude of an entitlement to impunity.
- From 1966-96, France conducted almost 200 nuclear tests at Moruroa and Fangataufa, some of them hydrogen bombs, some of them conducted above ground and some below—all for the sake of carrying out useless nuclear tests that destroyed the natural environment, and destroyed the health of the islanders and military personnel who had to participate in the blasts—damage which the French government has always steadfastly denied.
- By the time the Rainbow Warrior attack occurred, independent organizations and the governments of Australia and New Zealand had been aggressively protesting French nuclear tests in the South Pacific for two decades. The state-sponsored terror attack on New Zealand could be viewed as the culmination of this bitter dispute.
It would be tempting to think that this is all in the past and things are different now, but the chickens eventually come home to roost, and it is becoming clearer to French citizens that they will be the ultimate victims of the nuclear establishment that used to do its damage in far-away places.
As I have followed the trials and tribulations of the French citizens who stand up to the French nucleocracy, I have come to know the geologist Antoine Godinot who has been very active in the struggle to make ANDRA, the French agency responsible for nuclear waste, admit to the errors of its ways. An alliance of citizen groups has been fighting a legal battle to make them stop denying that the massive nuclear waste repository project in Bure has been sited over an aquifer that could be a future source of geothermal energy. In addition, it will likely be contaminated in the distant future if the waste is buried. (Reports on the legal case can be found here).
Recent correspondence from Antoine Godinot points out the links between the military and civilian nuclear establishment. Personnel from the old weapons program in French Polynesia have ended up in Bure where they have been busy pushing the project ahead in spite of public opposition.
Do French citizens have any reason to feel they will be more respected than the crew of the Rainbow Warrior?
From Antoine Godinot (reprinted with permission)
The world is small. Jacques Delay, our present international secretary of ANDRA (still based in Bure where he was originally scientific director) was in Moruroa at that time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing to do some drilling. His boss there was Yves Caristan, the head geologist for the “substratum” of Moruroa/Fangataufa where atomic bombs were detonated underground. Yves Caristan later became Director of the CEA in Saclay (overseeing 5000 personnel) from 2005 to 2012. He was also director of Material Sciences at the CEA, and is involved in the creation of the University of Paris-Saclay. In other roles, he was in the management of Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM, the French geological survey) when he returned from Moruroa. It was he, the direct superior of Jean-Claude Baubron, who intervened, at the CLIS in Bure*, May 26, 2003, to answer Andre Mourot and affirm that, according to him, there was absolutely no geothermic potential at the site. This was similar to the way Yves Caristan said to the media in 1995 that the cracks in Moruroa were not moving one iota, whereas the CEA acknowledges today that the northeast of the atoll could collapse, and that the fractures have never moved as much as they did in 1995. In Moruroa, one learned to lie.
Why did the little Greenpeace boat have to be bombed, with people sleeping on board likely to be killed, if there was nothing to hide in Moruroa/Fangataufa? Every detonation is an act of nuclear waste burial, but officially only 1 in 3 leaked very quickly. As for the others, probably none of them were totally contained (first of all, some cables linked the bombs to the surface). The government refused access to CRIIRAD, an independent laboratory which made several requests to go to Moruroa/Fangataufa. Yves Caristan and Jacques Delay were on the team that buried other radioactive wastes from the surface in the karst coral aquifer of Moruroa.
*Comité Local d’Information et de Suivi du Laboratoire souterrain de recherché sur la gestion des déchets radioactifs de Bure
This is a public relations office of the nuclear industry which was established to facilitate the flow of information to citizens and involve them in issues concerning nuclear waste disposal in Bure, France. In France, and elsewhere, opponents of nuclear energy view such operations as charades that only create an illusion of public involvement and consent.
Originally published at Nuclear Free by 2045?
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.