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France's Search for Nuclear Test Sites, 1957-1963

Jean-Marc Regnault
The Journal of Military History
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 1223-1248
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3396887
Page Count: 26
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France's Search for Nuclear Test Sites, 1957-1963
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Abstract

In 1957 the French government was searching for a nuclear testing site. It chose a site in the Sahara desert in Algeria in order to begin testing as soon as possible, but technical and political considerations rendered this solution only temporary. Recently declassified archival sources reveal that France subsequently considered using a South Pacific site, which helps to explain why France sought such tight control over its overseas territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Finally, at the end of 1961, the Moruroa atoll was chosen, but New Caledonia remained an alternate site. The removal by the French government of nationalistic leaders in New Caledonia and French Polynesia between 1958 and 1963 appears to have been motivated by nuclear testing considerations.

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