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Argentina lodges formal protest at UN over British 'militarization' of South Atlantic

Argentina has lodged a formal protest at the United Nations over British 'militarization' around the disputed Falkland Islands, with Buenos Aires claiming Friday that Britain had sent a nuclear-armed submarine to the South Atlantic.

argentina falkland islandsEnlarge
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivers a speech in front of a backdrop displaying the Falkland Islands (Malvinas in Spanish) painted like the Argentine national flag at the Government Palace in Buenos Aires on February 7, 2012. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina has lodged a formal protest at the United Nations over British "militarization" around the disputed Falkland Islands, with Buenos Aires claiming Friday that Britain had sent a nuclear-armed submarine to the South Atlantic.

Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said at the UN that the HMS Vanguard — one of four British submarines armed with nuclear missiles — was recently deployed to the region, the Associated Press reported.

"Argentina has information that within the framework of the recent British deployment in the Malvinas Islands they sent a nuclear submarine ... to transport nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic," Timerman said, using the Argentine term for the islands.

He specified that the sub was carrying Trident nuclear missiles, and produced maps and photographs to back up his claims, according to Britain's Telegraph, saying the sub's deployment in a nuclear-free zone posed a threat to regional security.

He said Argentina asked the UK through diplomatic channels if it had introduced nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic, but "thus far, the UK refuses to say whether it's true or not."

Britain's defense and foreign ministries refused to discuss Timerman's claim about nuclear weapons, "citing long-standing government policy not to comment on the deployment or movements of the country's submarines," the Telegraph wrote.

However, a senior British diplomat immediately denied the allegations, and according to the Telegraph described as "absurd" a separate claim by the Argentines that military bases on the Falkland island could be used to launch attacks on South America.

The UK said last month that it was sending a destroyer to the region, but that the Trafalgar-class vessel could not carry nuclear weapons.

Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina's president, signaled Argentina's plan to lodge a protest on Thursday at a meeting of MPs, senior officials, and veterans of the 1982 war Argentina fought with Britain over the islands.

(GlobalPost reports: Falklands: Argentina will make formal complaint to UN)

Tensions between the two countries have been increasing in recent weeks, as the 30-year anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands — and their successful recapture by a British task force — approaches.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/argentina/120211/argentina-britain-falkland-islands-nuclear-submarine