- - Saturday, February 11, 2012

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina has accused Great Britain of sending a nuclear-armed submarine into the South Atlantic in violation of an international treaty, deepening the territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands.

Argentina has information that, within the framework of the recent British deployment in the Malvinas Islands, they sent a nuclear submarine … to transport nuclear weapons to the South Atlantic,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman, told reporters Friday at the United Nations.

Mr. Timmerman said the government of President Cristina Fernandez has asked London through diplomatic channels if weapons had been sent to the disputed island region but had received no answer.

“Thus far the U.K. refuses to say whether it is true or not,” said Mr. Timmerman, who urged the U.N. to help resolve the conflict. “Are there nuclear weapons or are there not?”

After Mr. Timmerman’s talk with reporters, London’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said his government does not comment on submarine or nuclear weapon deployments. He also dismissed Argentina’s claims that London is militarizing the conflict as “manifestly absurd.”

But he added that Britain would “robustly” defend the islands, if necessary.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement expressing “concern about the increasingly strong exchanges” between the two governments.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. believes “that this is a bilateral issue that needs to be worked out directly between Argentina and the United Kingdom.”

The remarks prompted an article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, condemning the Obama administration for “betraying” London.

“At the heart of the Obama administration’s approach is its abject failure to distinguish between America’s most important ally and an increasingly anti-American regime in Latin America, which is closely allied with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela,” it stated.

Argentina claims that such a deployment violates the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which prohibits nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For several months, the Argentina and Gret Britain have been locked in an increasingly intense war of words as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches and as Prince William, a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy, is deployed at military base on the islands.

Further irritating Argentina is the fact that British oil companies since 2010 have been talking of possible offshore oil fortunes near the islands and inside a British economic exclusion zone.

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