French Demonstrators Criticise French Nuclear Missile Tests
Anti-nuclear missile protestors, France. Photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Muller and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Biscarosse France (AFP) Sep 23, 2006
More than 1,000 French anti-nuclear protestors demonstrated at a military centre in western France on Saturday at their country's plans to test a new M51 ballistic missile. The demonstrators, dressed as yellow missiles, said they wanted to carry out a citizens' inspection of the missile, charging plans to test it at the centre near Biscarosse in the Bay of Biscay were in stark contradiction with France's role in pressuring Iran over its nuclear programme.
"In the absence of UN controls it is the role of the citizens to see if this weapon (the M51 missile) is in contradition or not with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," said the chief of Greenpeace in France, Pascal Husting.
Demonstrators said 2,000 people had turned out for the action, while police put the number at half that.
The M51 is French navy's future submarine-launched ballistic missile. It is scheduled to enter service in 2010 and is expected to be operated by the French navy.
The action comes after Chirac, whose country is one of six major powers trying to negotiate a solution to the nuclear row with Iran, put forward a compromise formula at the UN Security Council for resolving the dispute without having to impose sanctions on Tehran.
"I have come to show my opposition to the logic of over-arming and denounce the doublespeak of the president of the republic who, as soon as he leaves the United Nations podium advocates the overarming of France," French Green deputy Noel Mamere said.
"France is encouraging the development of atomic weapons and is therefore giving pretexts to Iran to continue to escape," Stephane Lhomme, national spokesman for the "Sortir du nucleaire" group charged.
Iran has so far refused to abandon uranium enrichment, saying its nuclear programme is solely for the purpose of electricity production.
Source: Agence France-Presse