Australian news, and some related international items

Did Australia cave in to France over Pacific nuclear bomb testing?

French nuclear testing continued at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls for another decade

Did Australia ‘cave’ to Chirac’s threats over opposition to nuclear testing?, Released documents from the UK Foreign Office detail the political fall-out of Australia’s opposition to French nuclear testing in the South Pacific in 1985. SBS, By Brett Mason, 20 July  17  , Australian diplomats were forced to deny mysterious rumours circulating around the European Union headquarters in Brussels that the iconic kangaroo faced imminent extinction, just days after then Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac threatened to ‘make trouble’ for Australia and New Zealand in European Union trade negotiations.

The threat came after both nations vocally protested French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and the sinking of Greenpeace vessel the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985.

New Zealand authorities had arrested two French agents suspected of involvement in the bombing, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart, who had posed as married couple Sophie and Alain Turenge.

Australia’s former Environment Minister, Barry Cohen, formally wrote to his British counterpart in October 1985 stressing that ‘these allegations are untrue’, providing research data he suggested might be more widely distributed by the United Kingdom ‘in the EC (European Community) context’.

Just days earlier, Mr Chirac delivered what British diplomats described as an ‘ill-tempered’ speech to his Rally for the Republic (RPR) party’s annual conference in Menton, France.

They reported ‘enthusiastic applause’ when Mr Chirac threatened to ‘adopt an increasingly tough line’ towards Australia and New Zealand and ‘to make trouble’ for both nations in crucial upcoming trade negotiations, centred on lucrative lamb and butter imports.

In a diplomatic cable, they claimed Mr Chirac told the enthusiastic crowd: “France recognised and was grateful for the Australian and New Zealand contribution during the Second World War, but this did not give the Australians or New Zealanders any right to interfere in France’s internal affairs.”

They went on to say that Mr Chirac stressed: “France was a Pacific power and would remain so – there must be no ambiguity about this.”

It was, the British diplomats said, a “tough warning to New Zealand and Australia to stop undermining French interests in the South Pacific or face the prospect of retaliation”.

Their official account of the rally details how Mr Chirac addressed his supporters.

“New Zealand, in particular, should remember that she depends on Europe, for the export of her agricultural produce,” he said.

“These exports were in large measure at the expense of French farmers.

“New Zealand exports to the Community required the unanimous endorsement of all members states… [And] France would refuse such endorsement in 1986 unless New Zealand agreed first to stop working against French interests.”

Diplomats mused, “although it was not put quite so crudely”, Chirac hinted that France would be willing to cooperate on trade once “the ‘Turenge couple’ had been released and New Zealand had piped down over nuclear testing”.

The official cable to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was concluded with succinct advice to “Cave!”

While the true meaning of the diplomat’s words are ambiguous, ‘cave!’ in Latin translates to ‘beware!’

Mr Chirac went on to become the French Prime Minister the following March, and four months after his victory New Zealand agreed to transfer the ‘couple’ suspected of helping to sink the Rainbow Warrior to French custody on the island of Hao in French Polynesia.

French nuclear testing continued at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls for another decade……


July 21, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history

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