Code-named as “Gerboise Bleue”(Blue Desert Rat), the first French nuclear test was conducted on 13 February 1960. This day marks the beginning of a series of four atmospheric nuclear tests at the Reganne Oasis situated in the Sahara Desert of Algeria. Considered to be quite large for a country’s first nuclear test, Gerboise Bleue was accompanied by an explosive yield of 70 kilotons.
After wrapping up the Gerboise test series, France migrated to underground testing at a different site in the Algerian Sahara called In Ecker where it conducted 13 more nuclear tests until 1967. Subsequently, French nuclear testing was also conducted at French Polynesian atolls in the South Pacific. The first one was the 2.6 megaton Canopus test in August 1968. Though the affected zone was restricted to within the Sahara Desert in Algeria, the Gerboise test has its radiation reach as far as the southern coast of Spain along with Sicily and Sardinia in Italy within a short duration of 13 days.
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