News

Tracking Number:  412287

Title:  "Bombs or Beaujolais: Markey Asks France to Make a Choice." In response to France's underground nuclear tests, Representative Edward Markey has introduced a bill which would increase by 800 percent the import duty on Beaujolais, a popular French wine. (951025)

Author:  PHILLIPS, VANCE (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:  19951025

Text:
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10/25/95 BOMBS OR BEAUJOLAIS: MARKEY ASKS FRANCE TO MAKE A CHOICE (Introduces bill in response to French A-bomb tests) (360) By Vance Phillips USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Representative Edward Markey has introduced a bill which would increase by 800 percent the import duty on Beaujolais, a popular French wine.

In an October 25 news briefing, he explained that his bill is in response to France's underground detonation of nuclear devices at Mururoa and Fagataufa atolls in French Polynesia.

"If France continues its testing, the Beaujolais harvest would go down the tubes" striking a significant blow to its wine industry, he said.

Markey said France has "pledged to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)" outlawing nuclear test explosions in 1996. He noted as of October 20 the French government in the "first half of 1996" will sign the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, which would prohibit nuclear testing in the South Pacific region.

In addition to signing the CTBT and the SPNFZ treaties, French President Jacques Chirac indicated he plans on reducing the number of planned tests, allowing them to "finish ahead of schedule."

In spite of Chirac's recent statements, Markey stressed that the testing is not necessary and should be ended immediately, not limited. To support his claim he said "the world's top nuclear scientist, including French scientists, believe that exploding nuclear test devices is not needed to verify the safety and reliability of a nuclear weapons stockpile."

Victor W. Sidel, M.D., professor of Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, also condemned France's continued testing of nuclear devices.

Sidel said the radiation from the underground detonations will seep into the soil and eventually into the Pacific Ocean itself, resulting in contamination of fish supplies and irreversible destruction of coral reef beds.

He noted that the danger posed by the radioactive fallout would not disappear over a short period of time because it has a "half-life of 24,000 years," thus exposing future generations to potential radiation poisoning. The half-life of a radioactive substance is the time required for it to lose half of its total radioactivity.

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