Australia's Prime Minister, William McMahon, told the French Ambassador to Australia, Mr G. Van Laethem,?
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Background: Australia's Prime Minister, William McMahon, told the French Ambassador to Australia, Mr G. Van Laethem, this week that he did not accept the attitude of the French towards their nuclear tests in the Pacific.
Mr McMahon's comment followed a speech by Mr Van Laethem defending the French Government's tests at the opening of a new section at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission's establishment near Sydney.
Outside the building, several hundred demonstrators protested against the Tests and against what they described as "a lack of positive action" by the Australian government to prevent them. There were several skirmishes with police.
Addressing the French Ambassador and 100 guests, Mr McMahon said : "I want to confirm that none of the explanations you have given will in any way, shape or form, change the attitude of myself, the Australian Government or the Australian people towards the French atmospheric nuclear tests, or towards nuclear tests by any country.
Mr Van Laethem said that after calling in vain for genuine disarmament, the French Government had been "compelled reluctantly" to accept the fact the its national security could not be properly assured unless it had an atomic deterrent.
A French engineering company has been the principal designer and contractor for new equipment at the Atomic Energy establishment which will enable engineers and physicists to study a wide range of nuclear reactor types.
Demonstrators kept a vigil outside the building and later continued protests outside the Banque Nationale de Paris in Sydney.