Yesterday, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved a draft declaration denouncing the decision of the British Government to send a nuclear submarine, HMS Talent, to guard the Falkland Islands. The declaration highlights the Chamber’s; ” .. strongest repudiation of the decision by the British Government to send to the Falkland Islands a nuclear submarine equipped with missiles of high destructive capacity.”
While the British Government has referred to the reports of such a deployment as “speculation”, the mere suggestion has aroused strong feeling in South America. Uruguay has already criticised the move.
Deputy Andrea García introduced the draft declaration with an accusation that Britain was intent on stirring up trouble; “Constant demonstrations of provocation by the British Government come to the limits of rationality when it results in actions and military objectives .., ratifying its refusal of dialogue and imperialist spirit. ”
Argentina has already lodged a formal complaint against Britain accusing it of “militarizing” the South Atlantic and sending nuclear weapons there in breach of its Treaty obligations. The complaint was lodged with the United Nations Security Council which noted the contents. No discussion or other actions has yet been taken by the UN.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence never comments on the deployment of nuclear submarines, so, failing an actual sighting in the South Atlantic, the precise location of HMS Talent is likely to remain a mystery. While the submarine is nuclear powered it is armed with conventional weapons. The defence of the Falkland Islands have remained a priority for Britain following Argentina’s attempt to seize the archipelago in 1982. The Falklands War resulted in the deaths of nearly 1000 people, including Falkland Island civilians. After British forces successfully regained control of the Islands, a ceasefire was signed by Argentina. No peace Treaty has ever been concluded.
The Falkland Islands lie some 400km off the coast of South America and have been British sovereign territory since 1765 although Spain contested this until 1863. Argentina insists that is has a claim going back to 1816.