Argentina’s foreign minister has accused the UK of deploying nuclear weapons near the disputed Falkland Islands, militarizing the South Atlantic.
Hector Timerman voiced the accusations as he lodged a formal protest with the UN on Friday. He said Argentina had intelligence that Britain had deployed a Vanguard class submarine in the area.
“Thus far the UK refuses to say whether it is true or not,” he told a journalists in New York. “Are there nuclear weapons or are there not? The information Argentina has is that there are these nuclear weapons.”
Britain’s ambassador to the UN Mark Grant would not officially comment on disposition of British submarines, but called Argentinean allegations of UK’s militarization “manifestly absurd.”
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he was concerned with the escalating row between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands.
Earlier the British media reported that UK had deployed a Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered submarine armed only with conventional weapons to the region.
The tension between the two countries has surged in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. Back in April 1982, Argentina tried to take control of the islands, which it calls the Malvinas and claims as its rightful territory. Britain repelled the attack with military force. More than 900 people were killed in the hostilities.
The current row has been brewing since at least 2010, when British companies started drilling for oil in the region. Argentina has put diplomatic and commercial pressure on the islands’ administration. Buenos Aires recently convinced Latin American countries no ban ships bearing the Falkland Islands flag from their ports, troubling their supply logistics.