New cables released by the website Wikileaks and published by the Spanish newspaper El País state the US Secretary of State worries in June 2009 about the sudden change in the language of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government in Antarctica and Falkland/Malvinas Islands case.
According to the document, the cable reports the visit of Ambassador Anthony Wayne to the Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, which refers to an accord elaborated in 2004 with the US government and other key governments, that has been abandoned by Buenos Aires Government.
Although it does not specifically quote the text of the accord, it affirms that Argentina had abandoned the specific language agreed after presenting in April 2009 new claims over the Antarctica before the United Nations Committee that deal with the continental shelf.
Taiana admitted that it occurred this way, but assured it was due to problems in Argentina’s electoral agenda. The US Ambassador ascribed the following explanation to Taiana: If you read carefully our claims, you will see that our language respects the Antarctic Treaty. According to Wayne, the Minister added that Argentina's first issue was not the Antarctic, of course, but protecting their claims over the (Falkland) Islands sovereignty.
The Falklands/Malvinas controversy was resumed during the beginning of this year when a new round of drilling operations in the watershed of the Islands was authorized by the local government and supported by London.
The State Department remembered what happened in April 2009 and is interested on finding out if the Argentine government's answer to the British decision could cause damage to the US companies involved in the project. I also requests if there is some kind of debate between the Argentine military, or inside Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government about possible actions, by their own or with other regional allies, such as Venezuela.
State Department analysts allegedly have been monitoring Falklands/Malvinas oil exploration operations, with US companies interests in mind and since the area is exposed to an international dispute. “This in spite of the fact that a telegram from the US embassy in London, February 2010, includes the opinion of Exxon-Mobil CEO Brad Corson who believes there is not enough oil in the Falklands continental platform to make it commercially viable”.
State Department documents that refer to the Islands as Falklands, while the cables from the Buenos Aires embassy use the neutral Falklands/Malvinas, underline its interest in gauging the potential Argentine reply to the companies involved in taking an oil rig to the Islands. “We would appreciate you inform us how we can anticipate the Argentine reaction including possible military actions”. To this effect they ask for any information on any discussion on the issue inside the Argentine government or “among military officers”.
The State Department is interested in knowing “if there are divisions among members of the government or high military commands”. Given the current economic conditions in Argentina, it is possible that they could use the exploration round as an excuse to reaffirm claims over the Islands and the surrounding waters”.
In any case the US embassy acknowledges that Argentine policy towards the Falklands/Malvinas has become tougher reacting to the British move and that three levels of action have been adopted: formal protest to the UK; warning letters to each company involved in the operation, recalling that their activity is illegal and they could be sanctioned, and letters to the governments related to the companies with a similar content. “We could be receiving a note under the third category because the US company Diamond Drilling owns the oil rig heading for the Islands”. The embassy recalls an Argentine resolution from 2007 which threatens to expulse (from Argentina) any oil company operating in the Falklands/Malvinas without authorization from Buenos Aires, and argues that currently there are no US corporations under those circumstances.
A later telegram reflects US concern about the Argentine government’s decision to impede any vessels with final destination Falklands/Malvinas from calling into Argentine continental ports. British diplomats warned their US peers that warning letters have already arrived to companies involved and ask if the non-call resolution could also apply to US cruise vessels heading for Antarctica and which make a brief call in Falklands/Malvinas.
Simon Thomas from the British embassy has expressed “surprise” because the US government has received no letters to that effect in spite of the fact that the oil exploration rig contracted by the British company Desire Petroleum “is operated by a US company”.
The State Department is also interested in knowing about Barclays bank which some UK media had published is a Desire Petroleum equity holder and as such could be reached by the Argentine sanctions. However Finance Secretary Hernan Lorenzino clears the issue: “there’s no problem because the bank (which happens to be the main operator for the rescheduling process of the Argentine sovereign debt) only owns a fund which manages funds for a third party which at the same time is a shareholder of that company”.