The UK has suspended all exports to Argentina’s armed forces amid growing tensions over the Falkland Islands.
Argentina has been allowed to purchase products from the UK in order to maintain, but not enhance, its military since 1998, and trade has been worth in excess of £3m over the past five years.
The UK government has taken the move in order to “ensure no British licensable exports or trade have the potential to be used by Argentina to impose an economic blockade” on the Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina.
Argentina has been accused of attempting to impose an economic blockade on the Falklands by banning Falklands-flagged ships from docking in their ports.
UK Business Secretary Vince Cable confirmed the move in a written statement to the House of Commons, adding that the tightened export control policy to Argentina would come into immediate effect.
“The government has reviewed this policy in the light of recent actions by the Argentine government aimed at harming the economic interests of the Falkland islanders,” Cable added.
“We are determined to ensure no British licensable exports or trade have the potential to be used by Argentina to impose an economic blockade on the Falkland islanders or inhibit their legitimate rights to develop their own economy.”
The UK has controlled the islands since 1833 despite continued claims of ownership by Argentina, culminating in the 1982 Falklands War after Argentinean military action on the island. Tensions have been renewed recently, as Argentina has accused the UK of a “persistent glorification of colonialism” and the militarisation of the south Atlantic.
The Royal Navy recently deployed HMS Dauntless in a move which was met with anger by Argentina, despite the UK Ministry of Defence insisting that its deployment was purely for “defence diplomacy”, with the destroyer only paying the Falklands a courtesy visit.
With tensions in the region showing no signs of abating, measures such as this were almost inevitable. Argentina has garnered the support of other South American countries in its attempt to bar access to Falklands-flagged ships, whereas the UK’s claim to the islands is supported by the islanders themselves.
With Argentina also threatening legal action against oil explorers acting off the coast of the Falklands, yet more action could be taken, further escalating tensions in the region toward breaking point.
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