On January 29, 1996, French President Jacques Chirac announced the end of French nuclear weapons testing. The international community as well as environmental activists had been concerned for some time about France’s nuclear tests. France had detonated more than 200 nuclear bombs on unpopulated islands and atolls in the southern Pacific Ocean. The explosive effects of these test weapons were damaging to local ecosystems, and radiation from the bombs would leave many of the test islands polluted for thousands of years.

President Chirac’s decision to test more bombs at Mururoa Atoll, just one year before the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, resulted in a worldwide outcry. International pressure included a boycott of French wine. Chirac’s decision to cease the tests was hailed as a victory for the global environmental movement.

Noun

a coral reef or string of coral islands that surrounds a lagoon.

detonate
Verb

to cause something to explode.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

nuclear weapon
Noun

explosive device that draws power from the splitting and combining of atomic nuclei.

pollute
Verb

to introduce harmful materials into a natural environment.

Noun

introduction of harmful materials into the environment.

radiation
Noun

energy, emitted as waves or particles, radiating outward from a source.