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Falklands row explodes: Expert tells Argentina to forget Belgrano attack ‘It was legal!’

Falklands: Historian says Belgrano ‘was legal’

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The Falklands War remains a crucial point of contention between the UK and Argentina despite over 40 years having now passed since the war. As the nations mark one of the pivotal moments of the conflict, the sinking of the Belgrano light cruiser on May 2, historian Guy Walters sought to shut down ongoing claims from Buenos Aires that the attack was illegal. Speaking to Sky News, Mr Walters said: “There are people in Argentina who clearly do want to recapture what they call Las Malvinas.

“They are happy to paint the British in any negative light as possible so the Belgrano fits into that narrative easily for them.

“But, of course, the fact of the matter is it was a legal action and nobody ever tried to prosecute the British thinking the Belgrano was a war crime.

“The captain of the Conqueror, he can go to his bed as easy as possible for doing his duty. Today is the day we remember 323 people died.”

The historian dismissed claims the position of the Belgrano at the time of the sinking signalled she was leaving the exclusion zone the British had set at the start of the war, which Argentina argues signalled there was no intention to engage with British forces.

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Mr Walters continued: “The zone has got nothing to do with it, and this has been a red herring for 40 years.

“This is how the debate is being framed by those who were against it.

“On April 23, we literally said that ‘we will target any submarine, auxiliary or military aircraft, any shipping, anywhere in the South Atlantic.’

“The exclusion zone had nothing to do with it and the reason why we issued that communique on April 23, and it’s absolutely crucial people remember this, it was to say ‘this is in addition to the exclusion zone’.”

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He added: “The exclusion zone was there to tell neutral shipping this was going to be a war zone.

“It’s a red herring, April 23…the Argentinians knew it, the captain of the Belgrano knew it, which way it was pointing – irrelevant.”

The Belgrano was torpedoed by the British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror, during the Falklands War, with the loss of 323 lives.

Argentina’s Ambassador to the UK, Javier Figueroa, said on Monday the memory of the Falklands War is an “open wound” for his country.

Mr Figueroa claimed the Falklands issue does not have “high visibility” in public opinion in the UK, but in Argentina it has “huge visibility in public opinion and the ruling class”.

He added: “This asymmetry is a problem.

“In Argentina, the war is still a wound – an open wound. It’s almost 40 years, but in Argentina it’s a deeply emotional issue.

“It’s not only emotional, it is political as well. The Malvinas question is the highest priority of my country in foreign policy.”

The Ambassador said the issue is like a “monster in a room roaring” when it came to relations between the UK and Argentina, and he wants to re-engage in negotiations to discuss the islands’ sovereignty.

He said: “It’s unbelievable that after 40 years we have a situation like North Korea/South Korea in the South Atlantic, which is ridiculous.”

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