Defence Minister Arturo Puricelli reiterated Argentina’s “militarization” claims in the Falkland Islands and highlighted “serious suspicions” that Britain is using nuclear weapons in the South Atlantic region.
Puricelli’s statements came a day after UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond brushed aside the possibility of an Argentine military threat to the Falklands, highlighting that “we have no evidence that indicates whatsoever that the Argentines have either the inclination or the capacity to intervene in the islands.”
Puricelli said that “the only thing that those (Hammond’s) statements show is that for (Britain), there is only one reason and it is that of force. For (Argentina), force is the right of the ignorant”.
“Unless Britain demonstrates otherwise,” Argentina will continue to question British exploitation of the area’s natural resources “without any concern for the potential ecological damage that could be caused.”
In an interview published in London’s daily The Times, Hammond mentioned that Britain boasts “the most advanced” war-craft “in the world.”
“People need to remember that Argentina has not purchased a war plane since the Malvinas War, which were 40-year-old Mirage planes. We have Typhoons, which are without a doubt the most advanced in the world, and have a base on the Falklands (Malvinas),” Hammond added.
However, Hammond downplayed the debate’s bellicose tone, and said: “we have no reason to perceive a military threat in the Falklands.”
Old diplomatic tensions have consistently increased over the past several months as the 30th anniversary of the conflict approaches next week. Argentina has insisted that Britain comply with UN resolutions and resume dialogue while denouncing “militarization” of the South Atlantic region.
Monday will mark the beginning of ceremonies in Argentina honouring the 30th anniversary, although several other smaller events have already taken place throughout the country.
Puricelli also warned yesterday that the Malvinas, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands comprise a “wedge of extra-regional powers in their intention to appropriate our natural resources”.
The Defence minister closed the “Malvinas: National, Regional and Global Cause” seminar held at the Argentine Congress building on Thursday, which highlighted the importance of the Islands’ “strategic location.”
“In this new century we shouldn’t waste any opportunity presented by the current regional integration process.” Puricelli said that both Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administrations are responsible for the “civil management” of the Armed Forces and hinted at the possibility of increasing preparations in the case of an act of military aggression from abroad.
In related news, Nobel Peace prize recipient Rigoberta Menchú was joined by other Guatemalan leaders in announcing the creation of a committee supporting Argentina’s demands that Britain resume diplomatic dialogue. In a statement, they expressed “staunch solidarity with the Argentine people and government in their legitimate sovereignty claim over the islands, and decidedly support their demands to resume bilateral negotiations to resolve the matter peacefully.”