President de Kirchner delivering her UN threat to Britain
Thursday February 9,2012
By Macer Hall Political Editor
ARGENTINA last night raised the prospect of “armed conflict” with Britain over the Falklands Islands – where Prince William is serving as an RAF helicopter pilot.
Arturo Puricelli, defence minister in the Buenos Aires government, accused the UK of attempting to “destabilise” his country and provoke hostilities.
He also claimed that Argentina was ready to go war against a British “invasion”.
His outburst came in the wake of an astonishing tub-thumping speech by Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
She lambasted Britain’s “militarisation” of the South Atlantic and vowed to make a formal complaint to the United Nations against Britain after the decisions to send the Prince and one of the Navy’s most modern destroyers to the South Atlantic territory.
Speaking to a local radio station, Mr Puricelli said: “What the British have got to understand is that we tolerate them in the Falklands but if any armed English force invades Argentine territory, have no doubt we will exercise our legitimate right to self-defence and we have the capacity to do so.”
Arturo Puricelli claimed that Argentina was ready to go war against a British “invasion”
His onslaught was the latest in the deepening row over the ownership of the islands ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War this year.
Earlier this week, President Kirchner told an audience of Argentine veterans of the Falklands War: “I have instructed our foreign minister to protest at the UN against the militarisation of the South Atlantic which implies a grave risk for international security.”
Her threat to report Britain to the UN followed a series of angry demonstrations in Buenos Aires against British rule in the islands.
Downing Street officials yesterday warned that contingency plans were in place for the defence of the Falkland Islands. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said: “We are not militarising the South Atlantic. Our defensive posture in the Falklands remains the same.”
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell said: “The only possible armed conflict in this situation could only be precipitated by Argentina.
“I think that Argentina needs to understand that the reason we are sending personnel and a warship is because Argentina is posing a grave threat to the Falkland Islands while we are defending the islanders’ rights and freedom. There is no possibility of Britain invading one inch of Argentine territory.”
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said: “It is for the UK and UK only to decide which forces to send overseas, when and where.”
The latest row follows Argentine protests at exploratory drilling for oil around the Islands, known in Argentina as Las Malvinas.