General de Gaulle flew from paris to the south of France on November sixth to visit two of France's largest nuclear energy centres.
General de Gaulle flew from paris to the south of France on November sixth to visit two of France's largest nuclear energy centres. The uranium plant at Pierrelatte, near Montelimar, and the reactor-testing centre at Cadarache, near Aix en Provence, were practically deserted as the President and a party of officials were shown the latest developments in French nuclear research.
Employees at both plants had been refused permission to present the General with a petition, and, as a safeguard against incidents, the Atomic Energy Commission decided to send employees home for the day. The employees had complained that, unlike other industrial bodies in France, they had no representatives in the management. Complaints have also been voiced about the recent decrees on national insurance contributions. The petition also asked for a statement on the future of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The Uranium plant at Pierrelatte is the fourth and ??? in a group of uranium factories and began production in April of this year, several months ahead of schedule. The plant provides the fuel for the French nuclear submarines and the explosive for the French hydrogen bomb, in the form of enriched uranium. France is only the fifth country in the world to possess such a plant. Britain, the United States, Russia and China are the other producers.
Speaking at Pierrelatte on the more peaceful aspects of nuclear research, the President said, "This construction is a work which opens to the whole, world, and in the first place to Europe, some new and far reaching perspectives. As we are a great people in the midst of others, we want such an achievement to contribute directly to our movement away from war, and at the same time we are making it a base for industrial development, for a new development in atomic energy."
At Cadarache the President was accompanied by Pierre Messmer, the Minister of Defence, and Maurice Schumann, the Minister for Scientific Research who has direct responsibility for the nuclear centres. De Gaulle and his party shown the prototype reactor for the French nuclear submarine and other aspects research and development.