Today in History: France tests atomic bomb in Algeria

Algeria was a French protectorate at the time.

On this day in 1960, France conducted its first nuclear bomb test at Reggane, Algeria, in the Sahara Desert.

The test, code-named Gerboise Bleue, had a yield of 60–70 kilotons. This test put France in the same atomic league as the United States, the USSR and Great Britain. The test would be the first of four tests that would be conducted in Reggane by France, with the final test taking place in 1961.

Despite protests from the international community and several African states, France continued its nuclear tests for years. In the 1990s, France was still conducting nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean, despite disapproval from many countries. It always claimed that it took great care to ensure that radioactive energy from the bombs did not affect people living in the remote areas where the tests were taking place.

The final French atomic bomb test took place in 1996 in the South Pacific.

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