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French tested A-bomb on own troops

France deliberately exposed 300 of its conscripts to an atomic bomb test in the Sahara in 1961 to discover whether soldiers could fight immediately after a nuclear explosion, it emerged yesterday.



An official report leaked to a French newspaper said that, within an hour of the test in southern Algeria, some conscripts were ordered to advance to within 275 metres of the point where the bomb exploded. Although there has been controversy for years over the sicknesses suffered by personnel who witnessed nuclear tests, this is the first time vidence has emerged of a deliberate policy to expose soldiers to radiation.

Lucien Parfait, one of the soldiers involved in the 16 French nuclear tests in the Sahara in 1960-66, said: “France left us to our fate. They used us and then they forgot us.” Mr Parfait has suffered multiple health problems from the effects of radiation, including the amputation of his nose. French defence minister Hervé Morin has just pushed through a new law creating a £9m compensation fund for all military staff whose health was damaged by the 1966 nuclear tests.

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