France tests an atomic bomb in Algeria

Saturday, 13 February 1960

France conducted its first nuclear bomb test at Reganne, Algeria, in the Sahara desert. At the time, Algeria was a French protectorate. The test, code named Gerboise Bleue, had a yield of 60-70 kilotons. This test put France in the same atomic league with the United States, the USSR and Great Britain. The test would be the first of many by France. Despite protests from the international community and several African states, France continued its nuclear tests for years.

In the 1990’s France was still conducting nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean despite disapproval from many countries. It always claimed that it took great care in ensuring that radioactive energy from the bombs did not affect people living in remote parts of the areas where the tests were taking place.

References:
• BBC, 1960: France explodes third atomic bomb, from British Broadcasting, [online], Available at news.bbc.co.uk  [Accessed: 31 January 2013]
• Nuclear Weapon Archive, France's Nuclear Weapons Origin of the Force de Frappe, from Nuclear Weapon Archive, [online], Available at nuclearweaponarchive.org [Accessed: 31 January 2013]

Last updated : 12-Feb-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 07-Feb-2013