Moruroa is part of French Polynesia which, along with many other island groups in the Pacific, was a territory of France until 2003. It then became an Overseas country of France. Whatever you want to call it, the French government considers that it is free to do what it likes to Moruroa Atoll. Despite international protests, what France liked to do was to use Moruroa to test nuclear weapons.
One or two nuclear detonations would have been bad enough, but between 1966 and 1996 France detonated 193 nuclear devices on Mururoa and nearby Fangataufa atolls. Throughout this period, Australia and New Zealand strongly protested the tests. France did not care.
In 1985 the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior was moored in Auckland. It was about to sail to Moruroa Atoll to challenge the French nuclear testing. Secretly, the French Government ordered the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), to stop the Rainbow Warrior. Under the codename Opération Satanique, (‘Operation Satan’ in English), French secret agents entered New Zealand posing as Swiss tourists. In the dark of night, they put on scuba gear and attached two bombs to the hull of the Rainbow Warrior. At 11:38pm on 10 July 1985 the first bomb exploded. At 11:45pm the second bomb exploded. The Rainbow Warrior sank within four minutes. Eleven people were on board. Photographer Fernando Pereira drowned. Two French secret agents, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart, were later arrested and sentenced to ten years jail. The French had them freed within two years. Mafart was promoted to Colonel in December 1993. In 2009, Prieur was hired as the director of human resources for the Paris Fire Brigade.
Is July 10 an important anniversary? I am sure the French would like it to be forgotten. Do you think remembering matters?