THE FRENCH PACIFIC NUCLEAR TEST CENTER

Created: 1/1/1970

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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FRENCH PACIFIC NUCLEAR TEST CENTER

To determine; the schedule and objectives of French nuclear testing at their Pacific Test Center.

CONCLUSIONS

Conslruelion of the French Pacific Nuclear Test Center appears to bea scheduled completion date off the three major installations at the Center, tbe test site at Mururoa is probably in the most advanced stage of construction. The advance support base at Hao is still in an early construction phaset and extensive rear supportat Tahiti areontinuing state of expansion.

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6 test series probably will be directed toward further improvement of the Mirage IV weapon and developmentnd^jasec^RB^

loon-"and barge-mounted over the Mururoa lagoon.

The first test series is scheduled to begin inll indications are that these tests will be conducted on schedule and that no tests will'

ther test series reportedly are schedulednd also will be conducted at Mururoa and .probably at nearby Fangataufa as weli.f

intends toconduct atmospheric tests to develop and testthe nuclearfor the fore* de dissuasion. The test program now is primarily directedthe development of thermonuclear warheads for useand-based missile

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system in thes and amlssUe system in Constructionacific Test

Center fCmfre a" Experimentation* du Paci/i-

was3 so that tost activity could be transferred to7 when French rights in the Sahara terminate. (France has conducteduclear tests In the Sahara and will probably continue these tests at least)

The CEPear support base atorward support baseatHao,est site at Mururoa. Weather and instrumentation stations and emergency airfields are being built on Islands throughout French Polynesia. Facilities at the base at Tahiti are primarily for the military and are devoted tologistics, and housing. Shipments of sensitive material, includingand the nuclear devices, are expected to be made to Hao, where aand airfield are being built. The Mururoa siteupport area and two test zones. Fangataufa, an atoll )ust south of Mururoa, will probably be usedest site in later test series.

Construction of the centeroint Atomic Energy Commission'. and private enterprise venture. The CF. Acivilian contractors In construction of technical facilities.he initial reconnaissance and survey for the major CEP facilities wore performed.4 the logistics area at Mururoa was completed and the test area was begun. Inonstruction activityalMururoa-anl was just beginning, at Hao,

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tests probably will be balloon- anotarge-mounted, withower shot or air drop test. Megaton (MT) tests can be expected.

The Operational Group for Nuclear

Testing (Gtoopeawit Op&ationnel dea EtpSri-

for test operations. GEON.arge naval task force,1estricted area several weeks before testing begins. Upon receiving favorable information from an extensive meteorological net, tests probably will be conducted at dawn of the appointed day.

DISCUSSION

NUCLEAR TESTS

To date, France hasesta, all in Algeria. Thefirstfour were atmospheric testa carried out at

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atlnEker. (See table nuclear tests In the

nrancenaeTground testing

listing French Sahara.)

FRENCH MJ CLEAR TESTS IN THE SAHARA Atmospheric at Roganne

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Apr 60

Apr 61

Underground at In Eker

7 Nov 61

1 May8 Mar0 Mar0 Oct 63

Feb 64

Jun 64

FebMay 65

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rench officialssatisfaction wilh the Mirage IV weapon and indicated thatn device now was the primary lest objective, although improvement and miniaturization of fission devices would continue.)

The Krer.ch reportedly are planning xo oonttnue testing in the Sahara at least5 andprobably until operations are transferred to the Pacific Test Center

SELECTION OF THE PACIFIC TEST CENTER

As earlyecause of the strained relations between France and Algeria, It was apparent that tbe Sahara would not continue to meet theof the French nuclear testinga decision was made toew site suitable for atmospheric testing of high-yieldhe Evian Accords ofhich called for theof French installations byonfirmed the needew site.

Inollowing an investigation of possible sites In French territories, General Thlry, who heads the military authority responsible for operation oftest sites, proposed toacific testing center be constructed in tho Tuamotu Archipelago. Ine announced plans for the Pacific Tost Centero become operationalhe CEPear support base atn advance support base and technical center at Haoand the test site atSec

CEP INSTALLATIONS

Mururoa Is an uninhabited atoll, chosen [as the test sitebecauseofitsremoteness and relatively Urge, accessible lagoon. The atoll is aboutiles longiles wide. Thereroad natural break in tho coral reef, which has been enlarged to permit the entrance ofships. In addition to the extensive facilities to conduct eachogistic support base Is being established at the eastern edge of the atolloot airstrip, several piers, and housing on land or aboard ships forest personnel.mall enclosed atoll (aboutiles to the south) and Mururoa make up tbe test site proper.Fangataufa was designated as an observation post by General Thlryowever, it probably will be usedest site at some point In the test

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the pacific test center

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High tests could be conducted angaiaufa to avoid contamination of extensive support facilities at sive Improvement program, connect the CEP with France. Expanded petroleum storage facilitiesatPapeetewillmeetthend naval requirements during test operations.

and Fangataufa are the only whose entire territory was ceded ,the CEP. The nearest inhabitedureia,iles to the northtionnd Vahanga in the 'ctconiles to thee atolls may be evacuated prior to sting.

iles to the northwest .of ururoa,ub-ort base.

Hao will serve as the land oase oi operations following the evacua-

tion of the Mururoa atoll for each test. The entire northeast portion of the Hao atoll is being developed by the CEP. Land to the south of the native village ofOtepa,, has been acquired for the CEA technical center.3

Tahiti, the location of the CEPwill Include administrative, communication, and meteorological4 In addition to construction of housing forersonnel, the CEP will have warehouses, equipment repair shops, and technical laboratories. The existing Jet airfield and the port at Papeete, which is undergoing an exten-

The CEP, which consists of military engineering units, CEA personnel, and private construction firms placed under the command of Admiralas undertaken construction of the site. The Directorate of Nuclear Centers (Direction dea Centres d'Experimentationstablished in4 under the Ministry of Defense to support the nuclear testing activities, directs CEP operations from Paris. The estab-Ushment of DIRCEN apparently hasCEA's role in test construction and operations; however, CEA'sDepart-ment of Military Applications (DepartmentpplicationsM) dlrttteCOTi-struction of the technical facilities of the CEP. (Seeor organization of the French nuclear testing program.)

rivate firm, wasto carry out the CEA construction

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tho Pacific. Army and nary engineers are responsible for tbe construction of military supportublic work firm, DiiBtez-Citta, directed by SODETRA, and the military are doing most of the heavy construction connected with the CEP Installations.

Constructionest site onanislandiles long and halfway around the world hasplacedatremendous logistic burden on Prance. Neither the French Navy nor the Air Force was equipped for such long-range support. In-terlsland air transport is provided by four Breguets (four-engine transports, first builteaplane, two Piper Aztecs, and several Alouotte helicopters complete tbe CEP airight LSTs and LCTs transport suppllcabetweenihiMheJagi^HF

The mam_construction eitortt Mururoa.

the last stages of construc-tlon, twoircraft and possibly several of theurchased for thede dissuasion probably will be used in logistic support of the CEP. The ships required for the test operations may represent one quarter of the French Navy.

he CEP engagedeachhead operation to establish the first temporary camps on the atolls. French foreign legionnairesent camp outside Papeete and beganof dock and warehouse facilities at Papeete and administrative and housing facilities at Arue, Taaone, and Mahina on Tahiti. Mahlnaerson housing complex at Taaoneare scheduled for completion in

The logistic support area at the eastern end of Mururoa, which was essentially completedncludes housing, power, water, fuel storage, andfacilities. France's Defense Minister Messemer and Science Minister Palewski toured the site Inollowed by an inspection by Pompidou in July. Pompidou also Inspectedwork at tho western end of Mururoa. This area was apparently Just beginning to be developed. Byarge instrumentation blockhouse was nearing completion in this area. Work on ablockhouse was Just beginningecond test area In the eastern-portion

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^photographs of thear-Wpleted commandre released to thepress In

Indications are tbat construction untilorkirfields at Anaa and Ran-jiunderway and construction is "at Hao, Mururoa, and Tahiti.csaoicricsltaritimca added merchant ships to the -Tahiti run in anticipation of con-freight transportation for CEP tion.

!EP logistic facilities are not yetand the jet airfield at Hao will not ^'completedbe Frenchfihegotiating for delivery of twosports in November and December ofInhe first of four lodified passenger ships to houseduring peak construction and test riods arrived at Mururoa; three others rere scheduled to arrive, one each in Fune, November, andol-completlon of construction, twoor months will probably be required equipment installation. At this time, quantities of coaxial must be laid. ^Housing at Tahiti for technical personnel to supervise equipment installation is ex-jtfpected to be completed in

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SCHEDULES

Tbe first test series is planned fornd will include thjee or four Jests at one month Intervals:

During Pompidou's

4 visit to the Pacific, the press was informed that the CEP construction would be completed in6 and that testing would probably begin In"

reports have stated that test series will follow8 andowever, testing79 cannot beparticularly since the long-range test program is undoubtedly subject to change.

A more ambitious constructioncould have readied the Pacific test site4owever, the French have encountered considerable difficulty and expense in maintaining their present schedule. In addition, by conducting tests at therateofaboutthree per year in the Sahara, they areacqulring considerable developmental data for use in the first test series in the Pacific.

If the French should soirage IV device could be set off in the Pacific5inimum ofand little technical benefit.such an operation is considered unlikely, since it would interfere with construction for6 test series and would require an expensive navalto patrol the restricted area. Also,ecent inspection of the Center, Messmer announced that no test will be conducted

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testa probably will beJust before dawn. All four of the French atmospheric tests at Reganne took place betweenirtloree included in the series, although there is insufficient evidence to confirm this possibility.

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the tests usually will take place 2G" minutes before dawn when optimum photographic conditions are obtained and the maximum number of daylight hours are available to track the nuclear

cloud.

TYPES OF TESTS

will probably be baie. the French have done considerableon both of these test methods and can be expected to use them.

he CEA sought toalloon system capable ofound payload at an altitudeeet. This isoodofthe maximum detonation altitude for the firsl series. There are noof plans for high-altitude rocket-borne tests. Likewise there have been no Indications that an operational testofthe Mirage TV system is planned but,tho first test mayarge test of the Mirage IV device. "

Because ofthe limited number of tests which the French will conduct, the test site will probably be extensivelytoaximum amount of information from eachower shot may be Included in the series sinceinformation can be obtained from this test method. An airdrop could also

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There is do single period which appears to bestingact, there la little seasonal latlon in this region of the Jlflc. However, the months of August appear to have the least tnd best chance of favorable rel winds.

lions atiles st of Mururoa, provide theeather history of the area, winds are generally weak and 3le, with winds from tbe east pre-lating throughout the year. Wind? _lnue to be weak and variable untilfoot level is reached, hese heights, winds are from the west, ^iterlies that occur are weak and of Drt duration. Average speeds are typi-'lyoiles per hour.0 feet, winds are again variable.summer, these winds are primarily im the west with not Infrequent lightFrom October to May,occur upercent of thoelocities as high asiles per

StudiesAloai.i^-CEBAM) is responsible for fallout prediction and monitoring durine testing. Activities of the CEA and the military are coordinated by tbe Mixed Group for Nuclear Experiments Inafety commission is responsible for onsurlng thatadequatesafetyprocautions arc taken during testa.

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