Argentine claims that the UK is ‘militarizing’ the South Atlantic and the Falklands are ‘unfounded’ and ‘baseless’ according to a letter from British ambassador Mark Lyall-Grant addressed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“Argentine claims of militarization of the South Atlantic by the UK are unfounded and baseless” writes the British diplomat in his letter to Ban Ki-moon, a copy of which has been revealed by the Spanish news agency, EFE.
In the five pages letter dated 22 February Lyall-Grant states that the UK government “has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Falkland, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, as of the adjoining maritime spaces”.
Argentina claims the Malvinas arguing they were ousted from the Islands in 1833 by the British Almost 150 years later, in 1982 the Argentine military Junta invaded the Falklands and occupied them for 74 days until the surrender to a Task Force sent by the British government to recover the Islands.
In the letter Lyall-Grant indicates that the principle of self determination enshrined in the UN chart supports the UK position regarding the sovereignty over the Islands that “will continue to be British” and underlines “there will be no sovereignty negotiations until the people of the Falklands so decide it”.
Buenos Aires/London tension has escalated since the Argentine government protested to the UN what it describes as the “militarization” of the South Atlantic by the UK, based on the fact that London is sending to the Falklands its most modern destroyer, HMS Dauntless, and Prince William, heir of the British throne, is currently based in the Islands as part of his training as a Search and Rescue helicopter pilot.
However, the UK government argues that the military presence in the Falklands was ‘minimum’ until the Argentine invasion of the Islands thirty years ago and was only increased following the conflict given the “continuous and direct threat from Argentina to the Islands and its inhabitants”.
Ambassador Lyall-Grant requests Ban Ki-moon to distribute the letter in the UN General Assembly and sternly denies the UK intends air and maritime control of the South Atlantic, and at the same time accuses Argentina of trying to do precisely that with the implementation of presidential decree 256.
The UK also denies having introduced nuclear weapons to the area as the Argentine government claims and reiterates the UK will not use or threaten with nuclear weapons signatory States with no nuclear armament, in abidance with the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, NPT.
“Since Nestor Kirchner and later Cristina Kirchner took office, Argentina has withdrawn from bilateral discussions including the bilateral military programs in 2008”, points out the letter adding that the UK last diplomatic dialogue offer was extended to Buenos Aires in 2010, but Argentina ‘did not reply’.
Lyall-Grant adds that UK believes there are many cooperation opportunities in the South Atlantic in spite of the fact that Argentina dropped out from the South Atlantic Joint Fisheries Committee and has deliberately extended the fishing seasons in those waters.
Finally Argentina has also rejected the joint declaration on hydrocarbons for cooperation in energy resources, besides having banned since 2003 all charter flights to the Falklands that must cross through Argentine air space, and has passed laws penalizing companies making business in the Falklands, among other measures which can only be described of great concern.
Full text of letter: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A%2F66%2F677&Submit=Search&Lang=E