UK 'military lobby' behind Falklands beef-up: Argentina

24th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Argentina said Tuesday that Britain's plan to beef up its defenses in the Falkland Islands was a wasteful initiative pushed through by the military lobby.

"It's an excuse used by the military to lobby to keep spending money," said the Argentine ambassador to Britain, Alicia Castro.

Her comment came after British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced a £180-million ($268-million), 10-year program to counter "continuous intimidation" from Argentina over the disputed South Atlantic islands.

The money will be used for an upgraded surface-to-air missile system and two Chinook helicopters for the islands.

Argentina invaded the Falklands, which it calls the Malvinas, in 1982, sparking a bloody war that it lost in just over two months.

The invasion initially rallied nationalistic support for Argentina's military government at home, but the defeat was devastating for the army's image and helped bring about the end of the dictatorship the following year.

Castro said today's democratic Argentina "poses no threat" to the islands.

"There will never be another war in the Malvinas because that was clearly launched by the military dictatorship with the objective of keeping itself in power," she told Argentine broadcaster Radio del Plata.

She said what the British government should really be concerned about was its use of taxpayers' money.

"More and more, English society is questioning what it sees as useless, this outsize military spending in the middle of an economic crisis to keep a military base with 2,000 men in some remote islands to prevent an invasion that will never happen," she said.

The Falklands War cost the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 Britons and three islanders.

Bilateral relations have been tense ever since. Argentina wants bilateral talks on the area's sovereignty, but Britain maintains there is nothing to discuss.

Tensions have intensified in recent years after the discovery of significant offshore oil deposits close to the islands.

© 2015 AFP

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