Nuclear sub leaves the Rock
14 July 2004
GIBRALTAR — British nuclear submarine Tireless left the port of Gibraltar Wednesday ending a diplomatic row between Britain and Spain, which had protested at its presence.
The Spanish government regarded the submarine’s visit as “unfriendly” and called on it to leave.
Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the submarine’s presence represented a “lack of sensitivity” towards the Spanish people.
He added the issue could have repercussions on relations between the two countries.
Britain responded by ending the visit two days early.
Spain’s foreign ministry issued a statement Wednesday afternoon noting its satisfaction that the vessel had left.
But it added: “The Spanish government reiterates clearly its position as expressed on 7 July on the aforementioned stopover, (namely), that it deeply regrets that the British government did not take into account Spanish sensitivity in respect of HMS Tireless.”
Spain had similarly been irked by a visit from the Tireless to Gibraltar in 2000 when it put into port for almost a year following a problem with its reactor’s cooling system.
That visit brought people living in localities adjoining Gibraltar out in protest fearing the sub could leak radioactive material.
“Gibraltar provides an important facility for the support of submarines,” a spokesman for British forces in the territory said on Tuesday.
The row came weeks after a visit last month to Gibraltar by Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the 300th anniversary of British sovereignty over the Rock.
The Royal visit also brought protests from the Spanish authorities.
The territory was ceded by Spain under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht but Spain has long demanded it be returned.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news