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Falkland Islands in a nuclear-free zone, yet Britain deployed 31nuclear weapons there.

UK Deployed 31 Nuclear Weapons During Falklands War, January 5, 2022  British warships in 1982 were armed with dozens of nuclear depth charges in a nuclear-free zone in Latin America, Richard Norton-Taylor reports. Consortium News, By Richard Norton-Taylor Declassified UK.

The revelation is contained in a new file released to the National Archives. Marked “Top Secret Atomic,” it shows that the presence of the nuclear weapons caused panic among officials in London when they realized the damage, both physical and political, they could have caused.

The military regime in Argentina claimed the Falkland islands and invaded on April 2, 1982. The U.K. government under Margaret Thatcher dispatched a naval task force to the South Atlantic to retake the islands.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) minute, dated April 6, 1982, referred to “huge concern” that some of the “nuclear depth bombs” could be “lost or damaged and the fact become public.” The minute added: “The international repercussions of such an incident could be very damaging.”

Nuclear depth bombs are deployed from navy ships to attack submerged submarines.

The unidentified official who wrote the minute continued:

“The secretary of state [John Nott] will wish to continue the long-established practice of refusing to comment on the presence or absence of UK nuclear weapons at any given location at any particular time.”

Heated Row

The existence of the weapons provoked a heated row between the MoD and the Foreign Office. The latter asked the MoD to “unship” the weapons. The Navy refused to do so……………………………….

Nuclear Free Zone

The Foreign Office was also anxious about the presence of the nuclear weapons because of the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco. This established a nuclear free zone in Latin America and surrounding waters, including the Falklands.

Although Britain had signed and ratified the treaty’s protocols other countries, including Argentina, had not done so. According to Freedman, Margaret Thatcher insisted that no ship carrying nuclear weapons would enter the three-mile territorial waters around the Falklands which would be a “potential breach” of the Tlatelolco treaty.

The MoD admitted in 2003 that British ships in the task force carried nuclear weapons and that a weapon container had been damaged. But the number of weapons had not been revealed before this document was transferred to the National Archives in Kew, south west London.

But a number of documents from the file have been weeded by the MoD or the Cabinet Office. They include an intriguing note, dated April 11, 1982, beginning “The Chiefs of Staff believe…” What they believed we are not allowed to know.

What About Gibraltar?

Many more documents are missing from a separate file, now declassified, entitled “Gibraltar: Impact of the Falklands Crisis”.

Gibraltarians, like the Falkland Islanders, inhabited a British “Overseas Territory” and were concerned because Spain supported Argentine claims of sovereignty over the islands just as it claimed Gibraltar, the large rock and British base on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Whitehall weeders have withheld no fewer than 73 documents from the Gibraltar file. They have done so under exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act, and, specifically, sections 27(i), 40 (2), and 41.

These cover information whose disclosure might “prejudice” the interest of the U.K. abroad, “personal data” and “information provided in confidence.” Passages in other documents in the file have also been excised.

What has the British government to hide? Documents declassified previously may offer some clues. Thatcher repeatedly expressed concern about the implications of the Falklands crisis for Gibraltar.

Despite the public rhetoric, successive U.K. governments have been prepared to negotiate about sovereignty of the Falklands and sought a joint sovereignty agreement with Spain over Gibraltar in 2000 and again in 2002.  This article is from Declassified UKhttps://consortiumnews.com/2022/01/05/73354/

January 6, 2022 - Posted by | UK, weapons and war

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