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Reggane, France Tests Its Nuclear Bomb

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#1
Ithri

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I kind of forgot this section :(

13 February 1960

Fully copied from here

Gerboise Bleue ("blue jerboa") was the name of the first French nuclear test. It was an atomic bomb detonated in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert on 13 February 1960, during the Algerian War (1954-62). General Pierre Marie Gallois was instrumental in the endeavour, and earned the nickname of père de la bombe A ("father of the A-bomb").

Gerboise is the jerboa, a desert rodent, while blue is the first color of the French tricolor flag. So the second and third bombs were named respectively "white" (Gerboise Blanche) and "red" (Gerboise Rouge).

1. The most powerful first test A-bomb

With Gerboise Bleue, France became the fourth nuclear power, after the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom. Gerboise Bleue was by far the largest first test bomb up to that date, larger than the American "Trinity" (20 kt), the Soviet "RDS-1" (22 kt), or the British "Hurricane" (25 kt). The yield was 70 kilotons, bigger than these three bombs put together. The second most powerful first-test bomb was "Chagai-I", detonated by Pakistan in 1998, at 40 kilotons.

In comparison, Fat Man, the Nagasaki bomb, was 22 kilotons, one-third as powerful.

Only two other A-bombs tested in the Sahara facilities were more powerful: "Rubis" (<100 kt, 20 October 1963), and "Saphir" (<150 kt, 25 February 1965). Both were exploded underground at the Tan Afella facility.

All other French atomic-bomb tests, including Canopus, were done in French Polynesia from 1966 to 1996. The last bomb, Xouthos (<120 kt), was exploded on 27 January 1996.

As an atomic yield cannot be precisely estimated, the French army planned an explosion between 60 and 70 kt. Gerboise Bleue was a total success, yielding the full designed power.

2. Critics and international reactions

Students from Mali protesting in Leipzig against the French nuclear test

Due to increasing criticism, France stopped its atmospheric tests in the desert, and conducted further underground tests months after Algerian independence in 1962 according to secret agreements with the FLN.

From February 1960 to April 1961, France tested a limited number of atmospheric bombs in Reggane facility's C.S.E.M. (Centre Saharien d'Expérimentations Militaires, or "Saharan Center for Military Experiments"): the four Gerboise bombs. Three of them were only engins de secours ("emergency devices"), with yields deliberately reduced to less than 5 kilotons. With the underground tests the sequence designation was changed to jewel names, starting in November 1961 with "Agathe" (agate; <20 kt). On 1 May 1962, during the second test, the "Beryl incident" (incident de Béryl) occurred, which was declassified many years later.

Five months after the last Gerboise A-bomb, the Soviet Union responded by breaking its atmospheric tests moratorium, settled de facto since late 1958 with the United States and the United Kingdom. The USSR conducted many improvement tests, starting in September 1961 with a series of 136 large H-bombs. The series included the most powerful bomb ever tested, the 50-megaton (50,000 kt) "Tsar Bomba", which was detonated over Novaya Zemlya. Although the Soviet Union mastered H-bomb technology back in 1955, this "record" could have been meant as an answer to France emerging as a third Western force with nuclear power in the Cold War context.

Following the USSR, the United States reactivated its own atmospheric test program with a series of 40 explosions from April 1962 to November 1962. This series included two powerful H-bombs topping 7.45 Mt and 8.3 Mt.

China also launched its own nuclear program, resulting in the A-bomb "596" (22 kt) tested on 16 October 1964, and the H-bomb Test No. 6 (3.3 Mt), tested 17 June 1967.

In 1968, France detonated its first thermonuclear weapon, Canopus (2.6Mt), at the new facility at Fangataufa, a desert atoll in French Polynesia.


It is to be noted that France hasn't cleaned the site after the tests and it's still possible to see the bomb effects in Reggane.
The French government agreed recently to compensate the French agents (Algerian and French) who were members of the tests; but there is no word on the Algerian population who endured the tests.

One other thing, Reggane has been used by the French to test many of their rockets from 1961 to 1965.

961 December 6 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C02 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1961 December 9 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C05 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1962 May 29 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C15 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1962 June 4 - Launch Vehicle: Veronique. Veronique AGI42 FAILURE: Failure. Aeronomy mission Agency: FR. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1962 June 5 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C16 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1962 June 5 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C17 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1962 June 6 - Launch Vehicle: Veronique. Veronique AGI43 Aeronomy mission Agency: FR. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1963 May 21 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C45 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1964 November 5 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C72 Sodium release Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1964 November 5 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C67 Sodium release Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1964 November 6 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C66 Sodium / TMA release Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1965 June 24 - Launch Vehicle: Belier. Centaure C86 Aeronomy mission Agency: CNES. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).


And After Reggane, Deep galleries of the Hoggar mounts have been used by the French to perform 13 other tests of nuclear bombs from 1961 to 1966. More information here in French.
Un homme se leva et demanda permission d'appeler les fidèles à la prière.
Permission lui fût donnée:
- Vous pouvez les appeler, tant que vous les appelez à Dieu et non à vous-même.
- Mais comment saurais-je la différence?
- Si ça vous dérange que quelqu'un d'autre les appelle à Dieu, c'est que vous les appelez à vous-même.

#2
^_^Chaouia^_^

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azul ithri tanmirth for this reminder, sad thing is the radiation from these bombs can stay into the ground for more then 50 years, leak into the soil, and water, people get tumors,cancers,deformations, and die from such radiation exposures and poising ... wonder why there is a raise in cancer patients in Algerie along with deformations, look to our wonderful past and present then one can see why such things are on a rise..
TamattuT nnegh machi ghir i waghrom
Tattali zang u yis wa Traffed' agastur."
The shawi woman isn't just for house work
She rides the horse and carries a sword.

#3
Beebo

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wasn't this part of the deal for the french to leave Algeria?? I read somewhere that part of the deal during the negotiations, the French main request was for them to have that area as a test area for their nuclear weapons. Something which many didn't know or heard about until a few years ago.

WgxUpZ6.png


#4
Ithri

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Right, and anything happened from July 62 is the responsibility of the Algerian government (and this part is of course almost never mentioned anywhere). But the French are accountable of all the tests between 1960 and 1962. It was their responsibility to clean the area, remove the residuals, isolate it and make sure no civilians are in it during the tests, protect the people, etc.

I am no fan of the apology thing and don't need the French to apologize but they should be forced to compensate the victims. And if one day we start hearing of the victims of the 1962 to 1966 activities then I believe the Algerian government should compensate as well.

#5
Amina

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hey have you heard about the film "Gérboise bleue" , we talk about it every where here ..

realised by :Djamel Ouahab

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http://www.allocine....a=18856420.html

I want really to watch it !
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#6
bentAljazair

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Thanks Amina looks interesting
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#7
Amina

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you're welcome bentAljazair , it is very recent documentary , la sortie was the 11th February 2009

Un film de Djamel Ouahab

sortie nationale le 11 février 2009

Gerboise Bleue raconte l’histoire des vétérans français et des Touaregs algériens victimes des premiers essais atomiques français dans le Sahara de 1960 à 1966.
Pour la première fois, les derniers survivants témoignent de leurs combats pour la reconnaissance de leurs maladies, et révèlent dans quelles conditions les tirs se sont véritablement déroulés.
Pour la première fois, je me rends sur le point zéro de « Gerboise Bleue », premier essai atomique français en atmosphère quatre fois supérieur à Hiroshima, interdit d’accès depuis 47 ans par les autorités algériennes.

Auteur, réalisateur……………………Djamel Ouahab
1er assistant réalisateur…………….Marie Emery
Directeur de production…………….Sadek Djermoune
Image et Montage…………………….Djamel Ouahab
Monteur son……………………………Marc Nouyrigat
Mixage…………………………………..Frédéric Théry
Compositeur de musique………….Hugues Tabar-Nouval
Producteur délégué………………….Kalame films
Coproducteur………………………….Bladi films



#8
Beebo

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looked for this everywhere but no luck yet :(

#9
Ithri

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PARIS (Reuters) - France will compensate victims of past nuclear tests in the south Pacific and the Sahara, and for the first time has formally recognized a link between the explosions and illnesses suffered by soldiers and civilians.

Defense Minister Herve Morin told reporters on Tuesday France had conducted the tests as safely as possible, and had needed them to build up a credible nuclear deterrent and emerge as a global nuclear power.

"Thirteen years after the end of tests in the Pacific ... it's time for our country to be at peace with itself, thanks to a system of compensation and mending the damage that was suffered," he told a news conference.

Some veterans who worked on the tests in Algeria and French Polynesian atolls in the Pacific have reported they were ordered to lie down and cover their eyes during the explosions, while wearing nothing more than shorts and T-shirts.

Several said they were told to drive or sail into the damaged area immediately after the blast to examine the impact.

France had long refused to recognize officially a link between the tests, which ended in 1996, and diseases afflicting some of the 150,000 army and civilian staff who were at the sites.

"The burden of proof will be reversed: victims will no longer have to prove that their illness is due to the nuclear tests, but it will be up the state to contest that," Morin said, listing the principles of the proposed compensation scheme.

He also said compensation would no longer depend on whether victims were military staff, civilian staff or residents, and would apply to all nationalities.


Read more here

#10
Beebo

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do they think these compensations will be enough to fix what has been destroyed??