Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero Monday insisted the United Kingdom had sent nuclear weapons to the Falkland Islands in 1982 and claimed British authorities should come clean about the issue.
Cafiero’s remarks were made during his participation at the Conference on Disarmament at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization in Geneva, during which he also condemned Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The Foreign Minister referred to documents “that prove that, during the 1982 South Atlantic conflict, the United Kingdom sent ships equipped with 31 nuclear weapons to the region.” He insisted the United Kingdom needed to explain what has happened with that military equipment.
The United Kingdom still owes Argentina and the world information on exactly how many kilotons it transported to the South Atlantic in 1982 and what was the fate of that nuclear material, Cafiero told the Geneva conference.
“The mere presence of these weapons implied, not only for Argentina but for the entire region, a serious nuclear risk both in terms of radioactive contamination in the South Atlantic, as well as the catastrophic humanitarian consequences associated with nuclear weapons,” the Argentine official went on.
“Our country has clearly demonstrated its peaceful vocation and its commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Cafiero added.
The Minister also focused on newly-declassified documents in the National Archives in London “which prove that, during the 1982 South Atlantic conflict, the United Kingdom sent ships equipped with 31 nuclear weapons to the region, which at that time represented 65 percent of its stock of deep-sea nuclear bombs.”
The kiloton power involved could have been equivalent to between one and 20 Hiroshima bombs. Because the Hiroshima bomb had a power of 15 kilotons and the depth charge arsenal of British ships represented between 15.5 and 310 kilotons, it was reported.
“At the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, I expressed Argentina's inescapable commitment to the protection and defense of human rights,” Cafiero highlighted. He also stressed that London’s claims before Opanal (the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean) and the United Nations Security Council that nuclear weapons had never been sent to the South Atlantic had been proven false when the documents were declassified.
“Argentina repudiates the falsity of the information provided at the time by the United Kingdom in said forums. This conduct violates the obligation to act in good faith and demonstrates the lack of guarantees of transparency regarding the presence of nuclear weapons in the South Atlantic,” Cafiero also said.
“In our case, and as has been recognized by the United Nations in numerous Resolutions, there is a Sovereignty dispute between my country and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces that must be resolved peacefully and negotiated [upon], explained Cafiero.
The minister added the situation was aggravated by the British military presence that contravenes Resolution 41/11 of the United Nations General Assembly, which recognizes the South Atlantic region as a zone of peace and cooperation.”
Cafiero also stressed Argentina’0s nuclear program of more than seven decades was focused strictly on non-military goals. He also pointed out international agreements against nuclear weapons were the way to go to achieve lasting peace.