Argentina’s government has once again asked the United Kingdom for explanations regarding the alleged movement and transfer of nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic during the 1982 armed conflict between the two nations over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands.
In a statement on Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said that the British government “still owes Argentina and the world information about exactly how many kilotons it transported to the South Atlantic in 1982 and what the destination of this nuclear material was," quoting an address by the head of the portfolio, Santiago Cafiero, to a United Nations Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in Geneva.
The South Atlantic Ocean is a nuclear proliferation-free zone, according to the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco. In 2012, Argentina also denounced before the UN Security Council that Britain had sent a nuclear submarine to the region.
Buenos Aires and London have a long-held sovereignty dispute over the islands. Las Malvinas, known as the Falkland Islands in English, are a self-governing British overseas territory that have been under British control since 1833.
Argentina claims the South Atlantic archipelago as its own territory and wants the United Kingdom to abide by a 1965 resolution endorsing talks to resolve the sovereignty dispute.
Argentina's forces invaded the islands in 1982. Britain regained control after a 10-week war in which 649 Argentines, 255 British troops and three islanders were killed.
During his speech in Geneva, Cafiero cited leaked documents from the National Archives in London, published in news reports, that he said "prove that during the 1982 South Atlantic conflict, the UK sent ships equipped with 31 nuclear weapons to the region, which represented 65 percent of its stockpile of depth bombs at the time."
The British government has denied it transported nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic in 1982, but Argentina’s foreign minister hit back at those claims on Monday, saying his country "repudiates the falsity of the information provided at the time by the UK" before forums such as the UN Security Council.
"In addition to being a significant quantity, the mere presence of these weapons implied, not only for Argentina but for the whole 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," Cafiero argued.
The UN General Assembly has since 1965 recognised the existence of a sovereignty dispute between the UK and Argentina over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas. Each year, the UN Decolonisation Committee calls for a "peaceful settlement of the dispute."
The arrival of April will mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict. Argentina’s government has organised a host of events throughout this calendar year to highlight the landmark and its sovereignty claim.