Britain ‘will not allow Falklands be taken’ again

British defence secretary Philip Hammond rejected claims that Britain would be unable to defend the Falklands against an Argentinian assault as both countries marked the 30-year anniversary of the war in the South Atlantic.

He said Britain would “robustly” defend the islands against any attack and said it had “the assets, the people, [and] the equipment in place to do so”.

Admiral John Woodward, who led the taskforce to recover the islands in 1982, said that while Britain was without an aircraft carrier it would not be able to repeat the successful mission of 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez used the landmark date to make a major speech and lead hundreds of rallies across Argentina as she renewed calls for Britain to cede sovereignty over the islands.

Mr Hammond said: “We are very clear that our position in relation to the Falklands is that we will be robust in defence of the Falkland Islands, but we do not intend to repeat the mistake of 1982 and allow the Falklands to be taken from us.

“Despite the rhetoric of the media, there is no evidence at all of any military intention by Argentina nor any military capability by Argentina to attempt to retake the Falkland Islands.”

Meanwhile, the Argentine government has threatened legal action against British and American banks involved in advising British companies exploring for oil in the Falklands.

Downing St said the move was not in Argentina’s “own interests”. A spokesman said: “We are a big investor in that country. We think they are acting against their interests if people are attacking shops and branches of banks in Argentina.”

Amid the commemorations, the naval officer responsible for co-ordinating the torpedo attack which sank the General Belgrano, creating a turning point in the Falklands War, said he had no regrets. Vice-admiral Tim McClement was second-in-command of the submarine HMS Conqueror which fired the torpedoes at the Argentinian warship, causing the loss of 323 lives.

At the time, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was heavily criticised for the move as the ship was outside an exclusion zone and was heading away from the Falklands.

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