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French antinuclear groups feel betrayed by President Mitterrand

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The rocket attack on France's Creys-Malville nuclear reactor site underscores the growing frustrations of supporters of this country's antinuclear movement.

Many also feel betrayed by President Francois Mitterrand's government.

Their impotence to slow down France's ambitious nuclear program finally erupted in the Jan. 18 midnight attack which caused little damage despite four hits to the reactor's outer shell.

Organized antinuclear groups condemned the attack, but said they sympathized with its motives.

''It's too close to terrorism for us, but at the same time the problem has to be publicized and it wasn't the affair of the century - no one was hurt,'' said Dominique Martin, a member of the national secretariat of the ecologist party, Friends of the Land, France's largest antinuclear group.

The fast-breeder Super-Phenix reactor has long been the object of special scorn for antinuclear groups. One demonstrator died there in 1977 during fighting between protesters and police.

When it opens in 1983 it will be the world's first nuclear plant to use plutonium, the radioactive and poisonous substance also used in nuclear weapons. That permits it to produce more nuclear fuel than it consumes in making electricity, extending the use of the scarce fuel.

But technical uncertainties and safety worries have forced the US to abandon its fast-breeder project. Similar worries about nuclear power in general after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident prompted the Socialists and most of the country's trade unions to join the ecologists in signing an antinuclear petition calling for ''an alternative energy policy.''

As a result, during last year's election campaign when Mr. Mitterrand promised to hold a national referendum on the issue, the ecologists and other local antinuclear groups supported him.

But no referendum has been held. Instead, after initial doubts, the Socialists adopted the previous government's position that, with few energy resources of its own, France must rely on nuclear power.


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