British military chiefs making aggressive Falkland action: Report

January 14, 2013 - 12:00:00 am

LONDON: British defence officials have prepared plans for dealing with aggressive action by Argentina towards the disputed Falkland Islands, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Military chiefs have drawn up proposals for the deployment of extra troops, another warship and additional RAF Typhoon jets ahead of the March vote on the islands’ future, according to the report.

A senior defence source told the paper: “Britain needs to be in a situation to respond very quickly to a whole series of threats — that is why we have contingency plans. Our posture has not changed but neither are we complacent.”

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner earlier this month accused Britain of obtaining the islands in “a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism” and demanded they be handed over to Argentina. Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, prompting Britain to send a naval task force to reclaim the islands at the cost of the lives of 255 British and 649 Argentinian soldiers.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the 3,000 residents of the Falklands had a strong desire to remain British and would have a chance to express their views in a vote on their political status to be held in March. He expects a 100-percent “yes” vote during the March 11 referendum, raising fears within intelligence institutions that Argentina could respond with an aggressive “stunt,” the Telegraph reported.

This could include the harassment of the Falkland’s fishing fleet or the planting of an Argentinian flag by a small raiding party, officials believe.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said Britain’s “overall military posture on the Falkland Islands remains unchanged and they remain well-defended.

“The Ministry of Defence has always had contingency plans in place to increase the military footprint in the South Atlantic if required,” added the ministry.

British-American owned cruise firm P&O on Saturday announced it would not be stopping at three Argentinian ports due to the continuing row. “As a British cruise company we cannot allow ourselves to be the subject of any political dispute or put our customers and crew into any situation where their enjoyment may be compromised,” said a spokesman for the company.

Its Arcadia and Adonia vessels will now not dock in Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn or Ushuaia during their round-the-world cruises.