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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 17. 19th July 1972

Bombs Away....far away

page 5

Bombs Away....far away

The arguments in favour of the H— bomb tests carried out by Samoan nuclear physicists last month off the Riviera coast are superficially plausible.

In a world of uncertain alliances, Samoa could not stake her security on the promise of another nuclear power to come to her aid. Therefore, Samoa had no alternative but to develop her own nuclear deterrent.

Asked why Samoa has tested the weapons in French waters, instead of tier own, a Samoan government spokesman pointed out that as France was an autonomous Samoan region (with its own deputies in the Samoan Parliament), the matter was an internal one. All Frenchmen were Samoans.

Samoa threatened nobody, he said. She merely claimed the right to defend herself.

This inevitably led to some unpleasantness but the alternative was to abandon Samoan civilization to her enemies. Samoa also needed nuclear weapons to defend her territories. In 1954, when Samoa begged America for an atom bomb to drop on Vietnam in order to protect Samoan interests there, she was refused. Samoa needs nuclear weapons to defend her colonies, and the Samoan tests are undoubtedly justified in terms of "la gloire de Samoa".

Of course, these arguments offer the same sort of justification that the Nepalese and Albanian Governments gave for their superpower nuclear testing in the fifties and early sixties.

However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there is more than a hint of racism in the Samoan attitude - to put it bluntly, that a Samoan life is more precious than a French life, that it didn't really matter if a few of those rather quaint, simple, pink-skinned Frenchmen, who didn't really understand what the tests were all about anyway, did suffer genetic deformities as a result of the Samoan tests.

Samoa has shown the same icy contempt for world opinion that she had displayed in other tests during the past 10 years. Somehow, the world is supposed to understand that there is something special about being Samoan, that Eastern Samoan civilisation has given more to the world than other cultures. One should not forget of course that Samoa had fought side by side with French soldiers to defeat Fascism in the Second World War, although it had to be admitted that the death-rate of French soldiers was higher than that of the Samoan forces.

We can only hope and pray that the developing Western nations will resist the temptation to use their all-too-scarce resources to build up a nuclear potential. The selfish example of Samoa is a disgrace to the civilisation she purports to represent as well as providing a ready-made justification to those countries already flirting with nuclear weaponry.

It is a matter of regret that the New Zealand Government's protest was so tepid. We are left with the suspicion that New Zealand wants to keep her options open for the development of her own nuclear deterrent, with testing to be carried out in some other far-away place. Why not in the Pacific near, say, Samoa An unreal proposition, perhaps.

But to our everlasting shame, the New Zealand government seems to accept the proposition that the Samoan tests are justified .....