Pavement protesters mourn for Pacific atolls after French call early halt to series of nuclear bomb tests

BLACK-garbed demonstrators shivered in the wind outside the French Embassy in London yesterday as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament staged a mock funeral to protest at French nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific, writes Will Bennett.

Under the curious glance of passing shoppers, 20 demonstrators sat holding white polystyrene crosses labelled "RIP Mururoa" and "RIP Fanga Taufa", the two atolls where tests were carried out.

"The French have admitted that there were some radiation leakages," said CND's Eddie Goncalves. "There is no doubt that the tests have caused harm to the environment and the inhabitants of the South Pacific." He believed the French should open their records to public inspection and that the United Nations should be invited to send a team of inspectors into the area. Janet Bloomfield, CND chairwoman, said: "Unfortunately, France has made it clear that it hopes to continue designing new warheads in new laboratory facilities. On the other hand, French nuclear tests have rekindled public awareness of the nuclear threat and given fresh impetus to CND. For the first time opinion polls are showing that a majority of the British public no longer see nuclear weapons as desirable or necessary."

More than half a million people had signed CND's pledge to boycott French goods in protest, Ms Bloomfield said. The boycott was called off yesterday. CND believes consumer protest played an important part in persuading the French to reduce the tests from eight to six.

Photograph by David Rose.