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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 03:54 GMT
Argentina seeks nuclear apology
HMS Invincible
HMS Invincible was among UK ships sent to the Falklands
Argentina's president has demanded that Britain apologise for sending warships to the 1982 Falklands war with nuclear weapons on board.

"The UK must ask our forgiveness," President Nestor Kirchner said.

Britain admitted on Friday that some of the ships it sent to the Falkland Islands carried nuclear weapons.

But the UK Ministry of Defence said the arms were transferred to other vessels before entering regional territorial waters and none was intended for use.

Nuclear worries

Mr Kirchner said relations with Britain had not been damaged, but Argentina would stand firm in its demand "for precise and complete information".

"We need those who are part of the government of the other country to have the character to ask the forgiveness that is due," Mr Kirchner said.

Argentine officials said they wanted to know if there was any nuclear material on the sea bed in the South Atlantic - a reference to HMS Sheffield and several other British ships which were sunk by Argentina's forces during the conflict.

2 April: Argentina invades
5 April: Task force leaves UK
19 April: US diplomatic efforts fail
22 April: Royal Navy ships arrive in waters off Falklands
25 April: UK forces re-take island of South Georgia
3 May: Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sunk
4 May: HMS Sheffield sunk
21 May: British forces land on Falklands
28 May: Battle of Goose Green
13 June: British forces take Mount Tumbledown outside the capital, Stanley
14 June: Argentine garrison surrenders
In its statement on Friday, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said a decision not to use the weapons was made before the ships left port.

But they were kept on board because to remove them would take 36 hours, delaying the Royal Navy deployment to the south Atlantic.

In fact, the weapons did not reach the combat zone as they were removed on the journey and transferred to ships returning to the UK, a MoD spokesman said.

The weapons never entered the territorial waters of the Falklands Islands or any South American country, Reuters news agency quoted a MoD spokesman as saying.

Rumours about the weapons first surfaced after the war ended, but until now they have never been verified.

Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic on 2 April 1982.

In response, Britain sent a number of warships, many of which routinely carried nuclear weapons at the time.

Belgrano legal action fails
19 Jul 00  |  Americas
Belgrano: Ghost from the deep
30 Jun 00  |  UK News
UK planned to give Falklands to Argentina
08 Jan 99  |  1968 Secret History


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