France released a report on radioactive contamination Friday as it sought to quell a global outcry over its decision to resume underground nuclear tests in the South Pacific.
The report said the three major sources of artificial radiation are atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, major nuclear accidents and byproducts of nuclear energy production - not the underground testing France plans to resume next month.The report was published "to answer all the questions we're getting," Mireille Lacharme, spokeswoman for the government's Institute For Nuclear Safety and Protection, said in a telephone interview.
She said underground tests were not covered by the institute's report "because they don't contaminate. The radioactivity stays down in the test trough. It doesn't come out, at least not for a long time."
France is to stage the first of eight tests at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia next month after a three-year moratorium. Paris says the blasts are needed to develop computer simulations of explosions, making further testing unnecessary. It promises to sign a test ban treaty next year.
But the testing decision has generated vociferous opposition from environmental activists and several governments.
Boycotts of French products have gained momentum in Australia, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand and Norway. Sales of some French wines have fallen up to 30 percent in Australia since France announced the test plans.
France plans to haul Australia before the United Nations and the World Trade Organization for allowing protests to disrupt business and interfere with its embassy and consulates, and for barring Dassault Aviation from bidding on a multimillion-dollar warplane contract.
But the Australians also are on the offensive.
In an article published in several Australian newspapers Saturday, Prime Minister Paul Keating wrote that his country plans denounce France at the International Court of Justice as part its campaign against the testing.
He said his government will send protest delegations to Europe and the United Nations to whip up opposition against the tests.