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Club Med At Ground Zero? Don’t Rule It Out, French Official Says

August 11, 1995

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Once a South Pacific paradise, Mururoa Atoll could be one again _ maybe even a Club Med resort. Who cares if France has detonated more than 130 nuclear bombs under the island?

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux said Wednesday that after France sets off seven or eight more bombs at Mururoa, Paris will never again test any nuclear devices.

Thus, he said, Mururoa will no longer be needed as a test site.

``Perhaps we could transform it into either a Club Mediterranee or perhaps just a station for monitoring and observing the environment,″ Doutriaux told WBEZ-FM, a Chicago radio station.

Reaction ranged from bemusement to astonishment to serious contemplation.

In Paris, Club Mediterranee President Serge Trigano said he thought Doutriaux’ suggestion was ``a joke,″ but that he’d take on the challenge.

``Why not?″ he said. ``For the moment, we don’t have any projects in the area, but we’ll go and take a look.″

Club Med receives about 30,000 tourists each year at two vacation villages and a cruise ship in Polynesia. Since protests broke out over France’s plans to resume nuclear tests, bookings are down at its Tahiti resort.

Club Med Australia’s managing director, Nigel Stoker, said there was ``no way″ the company would put a resort on Mururoa. ``It was a bad joke in poor taste,″ Stoker said.

France’s decision to restart nuclear tests has drawn wide criticism, particularly in the South Pacific. Australia and New Zealand have been among the most vocal opponents.

France has been testing since 1966 in French Polynesia at Mururoa Atoll and neighboring Fangataufa Atoll, about 600 miles southeast of Tahiti and about 3,600 miles east of Sydney.

Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans couldn’t suppress a smirk when asked if he’d vacation at a Club Med Mururoa.

``I’d certainly want a lot of careful environmental monitoring to be done on it over a rather extended period before having confidence in the environment being appropriate for that kind of exercise,″ he said.

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