UK dismisses claims of nuclear Malvinas
Indirectly responds to president by saying territory only takes up 0.1 percent of its budget
The United Kingdom has vehemently rejected claims made by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner earlier this week that the Malvinas Islands has become NATO’s nuclear base in the South Atlantic, calling them “without foundation.”
“With regard to nuclear weapons, the UK position is clear; the UK has ratified the protocols for the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty covering Latin America and the Caribbean (the Treaty of Tlatelolco),” noted a UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson.
The UK Foreign Office also responded to claims made by Fernández de Kirchner on her April 2 speech to mark the beginning of the Malvinas war that the area had become heavily militarized.
“Suggestions that (the) UK is militarizing the region are wholly false,” the spokesperson said, “our defensive posture has not changed in years.”
During her April 2 speech, Fernández de Kirchner chastised London, saying the UK government should worry more about its unemployed youth than a far-away territory. Yet the UK indirectly rejected the logic, suggesting that what it spends on the Malvinas is minimal.
“The defence of the Falkland Islands accounts for just 0.5 percent of the overall UK Defence budget and less than 0.1 percent of overall government expenditure,” said the Foreign Office spokesperson.
After peaking at 20,000 soldiers in the aftermath of the Malvinas War in 1982, the number of soldiers stationed on the islands has dropped to approximately 1,200, according to the UK.
“UK forces numbers have declined to the minimum necessary to defend the Islands,” noted the spokesperson.
The Treaty of Tlatelolco the Foreign Office spokesperson was referring to forces signatories to prohibit and prevent the “testing, use, manufacture, production or acquisition by any means whatsoever of any nuclear weapons” and the “receipt, storage, installation, deployment and any form of possession of any nuclear weapons.”
Earlier this week, Fernández de Kirchner said Malvinas “constitutes NATO’s nuclear base in the South Atlantic: this is an undeniable truth.” Considering the Malvinas a “military enclave from where the entire British military deployment in the South Atlantic is managed” she later took to Twitter to list the military assets on the islands, including “a nuclear-powered submarine with the capacity to carry nuclear weapons” and a host of aircraft, helicopters and vessels.
“Argentina’s suggestion that the UK is seeking to threaten militarily either Argentina itself or the wider region is entirely without foundation, as is the suggestion that we deploy nuclear weapons in the region,” noted the Foreign Office spokesperson, who acknowledged there “is a range of air, naval and land assets in the region, including Typhoon, helicopters, patrol vessels and an infantry company.”
Rossi chimes in
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Agustín Rossi yesterday doubled down on the president’s claims by saying he has “near certainty” that there are “nuclear weapons on the islands,” noting that the president wanted the international community to take notice of Argentina’s views.
Rossi told Radio del Plata yesterday that goal had been reached because the news “reached the major global newspapers” and that it “generated support for the Argentine position.”
The minister went on to say that the UK has developed “a warring potential” in the South Atlantic that clashes with the peaceful stance taken by “Latin American and African countries.”
Rossi seized upon the report released by a UK Parliament committee Thursday that expressed disappointment in the US for its lukewarm support over the British position in the Malvinas.
With regards to the Argentine claim to the islands, the Defence Minister added that “not only is it in the face of colonial situation which is unacceptable in 21st Century” nor about seizing natural resources in the waters surrounding the Malvinas, but that it was about the country “asking that the United Nations resolutions be respected.”
The General Assembly of the United Nations passes annual resolutions calling upon the United Kingdom to sit at the negotiating table with Argentina.
Herald with Télam