Argentina is to make a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council after accusing Britain of “militarising” their long dispute over the Falkland Islands.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said the UK’s decision to send one of its most modern navy warships to the South Atlantic and to post Prince William on military duty in the region posed a risk to “international security”.
Her announcement comes amid simmering tensions between London and Buenos Aires in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands war, which saw Argentinian forces invade the archipelago in a row over its sovereignty.
Speaking to an audience including Falkland war veterans and other politicians at Argentina’s presidential residence yesterday, Ms Kirchner said: “I have instructed our chancellor to present formally to the Security Council of the United Nations and before the General Assembly of the United Nations this militarisation of the South Atlantic which implies a great risk for international security.”
Following the speech, the UK government insisted that it would not enter into negotiations over the sovereignty of the disputed islands.
A British Foreign Office spokesman said: “The people of the Falkland Islands are British out of choice. They are free to determine their own future and there will be no negotiations with Argentina over sovereignty unless the islanders wish it.”
Relations between the UK and Argentina have been frosty in recent months.
In December, British Prime Minister David Cameron accused the Buenos Aires administration of “colonialism” after the Mercosur grouping of countries, which includes Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay, announced that it would ban ships sailing under the Falkland Islands flag from docking at their ports.
Last week Prince William began a six-week posting in the Falklands region in his role as an RAF search and rescue pilot, while the British government has also revealed it is to send one of its newest destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the South Atlantic.
The Type 45 destroyer is due to set sail for the region on her maiden mission in the coming months to replace frigate HMS Montrose.
In her speech, Ms Kirchner said it was difficult to see how “the sending of an immense and modern destroyer accompanied by the Royal heir who we would have liked to see in civilian clothes and not in military uniform” was not a show of purposeful military strength by the UK.
She said Argentina would be opposing “this militarisation of the South Atlantic” because it was a region where “peace reigns”.
Ms Kirchner added: “We are people who have suffered too much violence in our country. We are not attracted to armed games, or wars, on the contrary. No land, no place can be a spoil of war. We do not believe in the spoils of war.”
She also made clear her view that the British are occupying the Falklands, saying: “It is an anachronism that in the 21st Century that there are still colonies: there are only 16 cases (of colonisation) in the whole world, 10 of them are English.”
Towards the end of her speech she made a direct plea to Mr Cameron, saying: “I want to simply ask the English Prime Minister that he gives peace a chance, that some time he gives peace a chance.”
British Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who was badly injured during the conflict, described the Argentinian president as “a troubled woman”.
He told the BBC: “I don’t know what she thinks she is going to gain by annoying everyone with these continuing arguments.
“Ultimately what are the UN going to do? Are they going to sign a sanction against Britain? I doubt it very much.”
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has described the deployments of HMS Dauntless and Prince William as “entirely routine” and said that commemorations would go ahead to mark the 30-year anniversary of the conflict in April.
He also accused Argentina of attempting to “raise the diplomatic temperature” on the Falklands issue.
It has also been reported that The Royal Navy is sending a nuclear submarine to the region to protect the islands from possible Argentinian military action. This has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence.
Britain has held the Falkland Islands, known as Las Malvinas in Argentina, since 1833.