Argentina files protest to UN over UK deployment of nuclear weapons
Argentina accused Britain of militarising Southern America, deploying nuclear weapons near the Falkland Islands.
The formal protest at the United Nations has been lodged on Friday from the Argentinian foreign minister Héctor Timerman.
Mark Lyall Grant, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, said London did not comment on the disposition of nuclear weapons but said that Britain’s defence in the area remained unchanged.
The ambassador added: “We are not looking to increase the war of words, but clearly if there is an attempt to take advantage of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war by Argentina, then we will obviously defend our position and defend it robustly.”
Argentina and Britain fought a war over the Islands in 1982. Today the Falklands are a British dependency but they are also claimed by Argentina, which call them Las Malvinas.
The arrival of the Duke of Cambridge last week, to start a six-week posting in the Falklands as RAF search and rescue pilot, increased the attention to the area.
The Royal Navy has reportedly sent a submarine to the Falklands, believed to be either HMS Tireless or HMS Turbulent. Both are powered by nuclear reactors but several sources confirm it is unlikely they are carrying nuclear warheads. That was an operation classified as routine.
But according to the Argentinian foreign minister, such a nuclear-armed submarine would violate the Treaty of Tlatelolco for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ban Ki-moon, UN General Secretary expressed all his concern calling Britain and Argentina to avoid any escalation over the Falkland Island dispute, offering United Nations’ mediation.
Tensions are undoubtedly rising as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict looms. Moreover, oil exploration by British companies off the islands has raised the stakes from the Argentinian point of view, but the true issue is the status of the territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Foreign Office has repeatedly ruled out negotiations unless the Falklands’ inhabitants say they want change. Last Thursday, David Cameron reinforced British sovereignty over the Islands saying: “As long as the people of the Falkland Islands want to maintain that status, we will make sure they do and we will defend the Falkland Islands properly to make sure that’s the case.”