January 6th – acting on instructions from London, Britain’s Ambassador in Buenos Aires raises Davidoff’s violation of British sovereignty with the Foreign Ministry, and demands that the scrap dealer complies with Falkland Islands’ Dependency laws. Argentina’s Minister requests time to investigate the matter.The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies any knowledge of Davidoff’s actions and asks for time to investigate.
Lord Carrington proposes a further round of talks to take place in New York on 22/23 February.
January 19th – the Junta approve ‘National Strategy Directive 1/82’; “The Military Committee, faced with the evident and repeated lack of progress in the negotiations with Great Britain to obtain recognition of our sovereignty over the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; convinced that the prolongation of this situation affects national honour, the full exercise of sovereignty and the exploration of resources; has resolved to analyse the possibility of the use of military power to obtain the political objective. This resolution must be kept in strict secrecy and should be circulated only to the heads of the respective military departments..”
January 24th – La Prensa predicts that the Government will present strict conditions for the continuance of negotiations with Britain. Iglesias Rouco, also refers to probable US support and expresses his belief that; “ .. Buenos Aires will recover the islands by force this year, .. an ambitious diplomatic and strategic plan which would assure the country of a relevant role in the South Atlantic.”
The news article also links this new initiative with a development of Argentine policy towards its Beagle Channel dispute with Chile, as part of; “an ambitious diplomatic and strategic plan which would assure the country of a relevant role in the South Atlantic”.
January 27th – in Buenos Aires, Argentina responds to Carrington’s proposal in a bout de papier delivered to the British Embassy in which they agree to a fresh round of negotiations but calling for them to be “serious” and “in-depth” and culminating; “within a reasonable period of time and without procrastination.” Argentina also demands;“… in the first place, British recognition of Argentine sovereignty .. It remains a sine-qua-non requirement for the solution of the dispute. So long as this question is unresolved the dispute will continue.” Argentina proposes the establishment of a permanent negotiating commission, to meet in the first week of each month, and subject to denunciation by either side without notice.
In early February, two Buenos Aries newspapers, La Prensa and the Buenos Aries Herald, discuss the pros and cons of military action.
February 3rd – Britain lodges a formal protest regarding Davidoff’s landing on South Georgia.
February 5th – Conviccion magazine, considered the voice of the Argentine Navy, reports; “ .. for 149 years the usurpers have enjoyed nothing but advantages.”
February 7th – La Prensa calls the Falkland Islands dispute; “ a now intolerable problem.”
February 8th – an editorial in the Buenos Aires Herald says that the dispute has gone on; “ .. far too long and that unless solved in the only reasonable way – by transferring the islands to Argentina, it will be resolved in a messy and damaging way that will harm the interests of everyone involved … and it is time that the British, deservedly famous for the intelligent realism of their foreign policy, recognised this and took the only sensible course open to them.”
On the same day, the British Government responds to the bout de papier of the 27th; “Her Majesty’s Government wish to reaffirm that they are in no doubt about British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, the Falkland Islands Dependencies, their maritime zones and continental shelves. They can not therefore accept the Argentine assumption that the purpose of the negotiations is the eventual recognition by HMG of Argentine sovereignty in the area…”
February 9th – in The Buenos Aires Herald; “New Argentine Governments, no matter what their provenance or their ideology, have at least two things in common: they all aspire to reduce the inflation rate and they all strive to establish, once and for all, unquestioned Argentine sovereignty over the islands known in English as the Falklands … This Government is no exception but … its Falklands approach will be far tougher than anything we have seen so far. Besides the attendant historical rights and the infinite patience so far shown by Argentina, the truth of the matter is that the Malvinas situation is seriously interfering with our security in the South Atlantic, is limiting our economic and geopolitical plans, including ones relating to Antarctica, and bears moreover in a most negative fashion on our dispute with Chile over the Beagle. Looking at the subject from an international, or western, viewpoint, the British presence there deprives Argentina of its proper participation in the defence of the region against constant Soviet penetration … this makes any strategic planning for the area virtually impossible or of doubtful value. So if it is borne in mind that it is not only this country which finds itself daily more prejudiced by Britain’s inexplicable obstinacy, it seems easy to predict that an initiative involving force could count not only on the understanding of the international community, particularly of the third world, but also on the support, or at least the interested tolerance, of NATO …”
February 12th – in Latin American Weekly Report; “Argentina will set a series of pre-conditions before continuing talks with Britain on the future of the Malvinas/Falklands islands . . . If not met, other forms of action, including recovery of the islands by military means would be considered.”
February 13th – two members of the Joint Services Expedition arrive at Leith harbour to find three yachts moored there. Isatis and Kim are French registered and have complied with entry procedures, although Kim has overstayed. Caiman’s origins are unknown and she is flying the flags of the UK, Belgium and Panama. Caiman appears to be in regular contact with Buenos Aires.
February 15th – Lord Carrington writes to the Prime Minister; “ … there is one new element. The Argentine Government have given us, as a prior notification of their position and objectives at New York, a substantial and toughly worded document which asserts that the sole purpose of the negotiations is to cede sovereignty to Argentina, denies the relevance of the Islanders’ wishes (as opposed to interests) and, without explicit threats, refers to the Islanders’ dependence on services provided by the Argentines. … We are therefore prepared for a difficult session in New York …”
February 18th – Argentina rejects Britain’s protest regarding Davidoff; “ .. the Argentine Government reiterates to the British Government that its sovereign rights over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands continue in full force, and it therefore rejects the protest contained in the communication.”
In La Prensa, Iglesias Rouco writes; “ .. The least that can be asked of military governments is that they do not dither in the face of any military eventuality when questions of sovereignty are involved. After decades of fruitless negotiations, Argentina has good cause to know that Great Britain will not give up the Malvinas either voluntarily or via any agreement that would mean losing its administrative power in the islands. .. So the time is approaching for Buenos Aires to think in terms of force….”
February 23rd – Sr. Davidoff turns up at the British Embassy in Buenos Aires, and apologises. He informs the embassy that he wishes to return to South Georgia on March 10th, with 30 workers, and expected to stay some 6 months. The embassy told him to comply with the appropriate formalities upon his return to the island.
February 26th/27th – negotiations resume in New York with two Islanders present – Tim Blake and John Cheek; “Mr. Luce explained that he wished to make the British position clear from the outset. We had no doubts about British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and the Dependencies. The wishes of the Islanders themselves were paramount … Sr. Ros recalled that Argentina had been trying to reach a solution to this dispute for over 16 years … He stressed that the principal question for Argentines’ was sovereignty. The key to their position was the need for Britain to recognise Argentine sovereignty in the area. … Argentina had no intention of disturbing the Islanders’ style of life; what they wanted was a balance between Islanders’ interests and Argentine sovereignty rights. … For the Argentines it would not be possible to accept any agreement that excluded the Argentine claim to sovereignty. … ”
March 1st – following the end of talks, a joint communique merely says,” The meeting took place in a cordial and positive spirit. The two sides reaffirmed their resolve to find a solution to the sovereignty dispute and considered in detail an Argentine proposal for procedures to make better progress in this sense.”
On the same day, and with little apparent reference to the events in New York, Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues its own statement; ” … the representatives of Argentina and Great Britain considered an Argentine proposal to establish a system of monthly meetings with a pre-established agenda, pre-arranged meeting place, and led by top-level officials. The aim of such meetings will be genuinely to speed up to the maximum the negotiations in train to achieve recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and by this means to achieve substantial results within a time which at this advanced stage of the discussions will necessarily have to be short. Argentina has negotiated with Great Britain over the solution of the sovereignty dispute over the Islands with patience, loyalty and good faith for over 15 years, within the framework indicated by the relevant United Nations Resolutions. The new system constitutes an effective step for the early solution of the dispute. However, should this not occur, Argentina reserves to terminate the working of this mechanism and to choose freely the procedure which best accords with her interests.”
The British delegation responds that this; “creates a more difficult and unhelpful climate for continuing the negotiating process.”
March 2nd, a report in La Prensa discounts the use of force, however Clarin says; “The press release stated that Argentina had negotiated for more than fifteen years with the UK, with patience, loyalty and good faith and within the framework of the UN and had proposed a new mechanism for negotiations which is to include South Georgia as well as the Sandwich Islands. If there was no agreement, Argentina retains the right to terminate the function of such a negotiating mechanism and to resort to whatever procedure is commensurable with the interests of Argentina. This last paragraph obviously does not exclude the possibility of military occupation of the islands.”.
Tim Blake and John Cheek return to the Islands but are unable to comment due to the level of confidentiality insisted upon by the FCO. “The meetings have been shrouded in secrecy to a degree that would not exist in most other democratic countries … we, whose way of life is up against the wall are left uninformed and wondering.”
March 3rd – La Prensa reports a cooling of relations between the two countries and states that Britain has only a limited time period in which to acknowledge Argentina’s sovereignty over the Islands. The Buenos Aires Herald sees the Foreign Ministry announcement as containing a “veiled threat”, and warns Britain that this time Argentina, “means business.”
On receiving news of the Argentine press reports, PM Margaret Thatcher minutes; “we must make contingency plans.”
March 5th, the Cabinet in London ask that the next Defence and Overseas Policy Committee paper include; ”Annexes on both civil and military contingency plans for counter-action against Argentina.”
Unidentified aircraft are reported to have flown over Stanley.
David Joy, a member of the Embassy staff in Buenos Aires, reports a conversation with Raul Schmidt from the Chilean Embassy; “The Schmidt thesis is based essentially on the Argentine Navy’s need of a strategic port further south than its current and most secure port, Puerto Belgrano. The obvious option Ushuaia was not satisfactory from a security point of view because it is under constant Chilean surveillance. Therefore the Argentines are, according to Schmidt, desperate to have some other secure port further south, a goal that could be satisfied by having access to the islands south of Beagle or the Falklands. In this context, he believes the sovereignty disputes are linked.”
March 6th – an Argentine LADE Hercules transport aircraft lands at Stanley airport citing an in-flight emergency involving a fuel leak. “… Overflights by Argentine military aircraft were a frequent topic of conversation. The emergency landing of an Argentine C-130 at Stanley Airport .. had given the people the jitters. (As port Stanley reported by telegram, the plane arrived without formal warning and it was only thanks to a local ham radio operator that anyone knew it was coming in. The control tower was not manned since it was a Sunday, and the plane could presumably have landed before anyone could have got out to the airport. As it was there was still time for the Airport Manager, Mr. Gerald Cheek, and a contingent of armed marines, to drive out to the airport before the plane landed). The incident certainly demonstrated the relative ease with which unannounced military aircraft could land at Stanley …”
“Ricupero cited the recent surprise landing of an Argentine air force Hercules at Stanley and surmised that despite what Costa Mendez had told his own Ministers, this might indicate the sort of additional pressure which the Argentines might feel tempted to use.”
March 8th – Margaret Thatcher asks the FCO and MoD to prepare for an Argentine blockade or invasion. HMS Endurance is instructed to remain ‘on station’ at the Falklands while Governor Hunt increases security at the Islands’ airport. In the midst of these preparations, Lord Carrington telegrams Rex Hunt asking him to discern the views of local Councillors to a resumption of negotiations with Argentina.
March 10th – in Buenos Aires, the British Embassy receive a message from Davidoff to say that he is sending a party of 41 workers to South Georgia with the operation to dismantle the derelict whaling station at Leith expected to take 4 months. Davidoff informs the Embassy that an Argentine naval support vessel, Bahia Buen Suceso has been chartered for the salvage operation.
Embassy staff try to contact Davidoff in order to remind him of his obligations, but cannot find him.
March 11th – Davidoff’s lawyers are warned that there will be consequences should he not comply with the landing restrictions. Christian Salvesen Co., owners of the whaling station, confirm that they are aware of Davidoff’s plans, and that his contract has been extended to March 31st, 1984.
March 12th – the Latin American Weekly Report states in an article; “The Argentines are considering a wide range of options for ‘unilateral action’, according to sources in Buenos Aires, if Britain fails to make concessions. These include initiatives in the UN, a break of diplomatic relations and, in the final analysis, an invasion of the islands. Government officials feel that the international repercussions of a hard line against Britain will be manageable… in the light of Washington’s preoccupation with security in the South Atlantic,… [Washington]… would be happy to see the issue settled. It could then open the way to the installation of US military bases in the South Atlantic…a development over which there has been much speculation in Buenos Aires since Galtieri took power.”
Intelligence reports indicate that Admiral Anaya, is behind the more belligerent press reports – “The military planning was, with the Falklands in Argentine hands, to invade the disputed islands in the Beagle Channel. That was the determination of the navy…”
March 16th – South Georgia’s Magistrate inspects the whaling station at Leith and leaves a prominent notice; ‘British Antarctic Survey…Leith Field station…Unauthorised Entry Prohibited.”
March 19th – Bahia Buen Suceso sails directly into Leith Harbour, bypassing Grytviken in breach of British instructions. A large party of both civilian and uniformed personnel are observed to land, shots are fired, and the Argentine flag raised.
Following an exchange of messages between the Falklands and London, instructions are sent to Grytviken requesting that the Representative there demand that the Argentine commander lower his country’s flag. This is conveyed to the Captain of the Bahia Buen Suceso who responds that he has clearance from the Foreign Office. The Customs House at Leith is found to have been broken into.
The Argentine representative in London is summoned and told that the incident is regarded as serious and if the Argentine ship does not leave forthwith, the British Government will take whatever action seemed necessary.
March 20th – Two BAS staff on South Georgia deliver a message from Governor Hunt to the Captain of the Bahia Buen Suceso; “You have landed illegally at Leith without obtaining clearance. You and your party must go back on board the Bahia Buen Suceso immediately and report to the base commander Grytviken for further instructions You must remove the Argentine flag from Leith You must not interfere with the British Antarctic Survey depot at Leith You must not alter or deface the notices at Leith No military personnel are allowed to land on South Georgia. No firearms are to be taken ashore.”
From Buenos Aires, Ambassador Williams telegrams London; “.. Davidoff was never, of course, given any permission by this Embassy but, on the contrary, warned personally in February … and through his representative here on 11 March that next time he must follow correct procedures. … I suggest that great restraint be used at least until it is clear whether this is a deliberate challenge authorised at high level, or just a piece of low level bravura combined with Davidoff’s well-known fecklessness.”
HMS Endurance is ordered to sail immediately from the Falklands to South Georgia, with its own small detachment of marines, plus reinforcements from the Falklands.
March 21st – Captain Adolfo Gaffoglio, the LADE representative at Stanley, informs Buenos Aires of the departure of Endurance. He also reports that the LADE office has been broken into and the Argentine flag covered with a Union Jack. “Tit for tat you buggers,” is written on the desk in toothpaste and “UK OK” on the office windows with spray paint.
Costa Mendez tells Williams that the naval vessel is not in South Georgia officially; that it has no military personnel on board and that the ship will depart that day. He expresses the hope that the significance of the affair will not be exaggerated. Ambassador Williams makes it clear; “.. that if the party left without regularising their conduct at Gryviken they would have made an illegal landing and be liable to arrest..”
A BAS observation point is established overlooking Stromness bay. The Argentine flag is lowered at Leith and the Bahia Buen Suceso sails away early evening; but some personnel are seen to remain.
March 22nd – Grytviken reports that the; “Base Commander has confirmed presence of at least six Argentines still ashore at Leith, …. In addition to launch … they had also seen a landing craft … they also observed a vehicle with a mechanical arm on the jetty…”
Lord Buxton, visiting Stanley, telegrams the FCO to urge the cancellation of Davidoff’s contract; “ It has been naïve to regard Davidoff as a casual scrap dealer and it is abundantly clear that every move has been carefully researched, planned and timed throughout… If our reaction is placatory and is not firm and final this time I predict that more unopposed illegal landings will follow and probably next time somewhere in the Falklands. British reactions are being tested.”
Ambassador Williams reports; “The Argentines .. appreciate the gravity of the hoisting of the Argentine flag, but say that they have just received reports that there has been a parallel insult to the Argentine flag at the LADE office in Stanley.”
HMS Endurance receives orders from London, to remove any trespassers from South Georgia. Captain Barker’s instructions clearly state that he is not to use force and, if resisted, should withdraw and seek fresh instructions.
March 23rd – in Buenos Aires, Ambassador Williams copies Endurance’sorders the Foreign Ministry. On their receipt, Costa Mendez, expresses surprise that the British Government is proceeding so rapidly to such very grave action, without exhausting the diplomatic options. He gives a warning that, if the action to remove the party on South Georgia is not postponed, those like himself, who are trying to deal with the dispute in a moderate way, will lose control of events. Mendez threatens that harsh action will precipitate a harsh response, and that perhaps the men should be removed by an Argentine vessel in order to take some heat out of the situation.
Ambassador Williams, conveying this to the FCO, adds that he considers the events at South Georgia as “trivial and low-level misbehaviour.”
The FCO respond; “Our intention is to conduct this operation correctly, peacefully and in as low a key as possible. We hope that the Argentine Government will, if they are able to do so, advise the Argentine workmen at Leith to co-operate. In view of the considerable public interest here ministers will be making a statement in Parliament today on the situation and on the action we are taking… any lesser action than we are now taking would not be defensible to public and parliamentary opinion.”
A statement is made to Parliament; ”We were informed on 20 March by the Commander of the British Antarctic Survey based at Grytviken on South Georgia that a party of Argentines had landed at Leith nearby. The Base Commander informed the Argentine party that its presence was illegal as it had not obtained his prior authority for the landing. We immediately took the matter up with the Argentine authorities in Buenos Aires and the Argentine Embassy in London and, following our approach, the ship and most of the personnel left on 21 March. However, the base Commander has reported that a small number of men and some equipment remain. We are therefore making arrangements to ensure their early departure.”
There is uproar in the House of Commons; “… if she [Mrs Thatcher] doesn’t get the Argentines out by next week there will be a major disturbance.”
HMS Endurance is ordered to ‘hold’ off Grytviken while Lord Carrington sends a message to Costa Mendez; “In view of the high emotional tone that this incident has created in the United Kingdom, it is now essential for the Argentine personnel that still remains in South Georgia to be evacuated promptly. If the Argentine Government can order the immediate return of the Bahia Buen Suceso to Leith Harbour to carry out this action, the use of HMS Endurance will not be necessary. If this is not done, we would have no alternative but to proceed. … Our principal objective now is to avoid that this issue should gain political momentum. It is essential for us not to lose the vital political climate for our mutual efforts regarding the peaceful resolution of the Falkland dispute through negotiations.”
Argentina’s Navy Command orders the ice-breaker Bahia Paraiso to take its marines as quickly as possible to Leith to protect the Argentine workers there. Vice-Admiral Juan Lombardo is; “.. directed by the junta to accelerate planning so that an invasion force could launch within 48-72 hours of notification.”
March 24th – intelligence reports suggest that the forced removal of the workforce at Leith will be used by the Junta as a pretext for military action either at South Georgia, or against the Falkland Islands. Carrington, writes to the British Prime Minister; “ … the situation on the dispute has developed to a point where we now face the prospect of an early confrontation with Argentina.”
The Bahia Paraiso arrives back at Leith. Lieutenant Alfredo Astiz, together with ten marines, disembarks. Three landing craft and a military helicopter are noted by the observation team.
March 25th – Argentina deploys two corvettes, ARA Drummond and ARA Granville, armed with Exocet missiles, between South Georgia and the Falklands, in a position to intercept Endurance should she try to return to the Falklands.
Captain Barker on HMS Endurance recognises the senior officer’s pennant flying over the Bahia Paraiso as being that of the Commander of Argentina’s Antarctic Squadron. Contingency plans against a withdrawal of Argentine services from the Falklands are prepared in London.
In Buenos Aires, Dr. Mendez suggests to Ambassador Williams that the impasse could be broken if Britain accepts that the workers at Leith now comply with the landing formalities by going to Grytviken where they could have their ‘white cards’ stamped allowing them to return and work at the whaling station.
The military Junta convenes to discuss its plans for an invasion of the Falklands. In the meeting, Britain is accused of employing ‘gunboat’ diplomacy.
“Britain’s escalation of the dispute – especially its demand about passports – came as a complete surprise … There was unanimous agreement that we could not permit it.”
March 26th – Bahia Paraiso is seen to sail away from Leith; “Argentine party are still ashore at Leith. Although only two people were actually sighted this morning, smoke was emerging from several buildings and 2 boats were still alongside jetty. 65 blue drums had been stacked at inshore end of jetty. A large quantity of stores and equipment was visible, even dead reindeer. Consider shore party were working late into evening yesterday disembarking stores from Bahia Paraiso and are now established for a long stay at Leith. It is clear that this operation had been preplanned for some time as Bahia Paraiso came from Antarctic and not Argentina.”
Governor Hunt telegrams London regarding Mendez’s proposal; “ … I am more than ever convinced that this whole exercise was carefully planned … Proper documentation does not (repeat not) mean stamping of white cards. I am instructing the base commander to ask for passports and, if produced, to stamp them in the normal way with an entry permit …”
Marines arrive at Port Stanley to relieve the garrison which has completed its tour. Ministers decide that both detachments should remain for the time being.
In Buenos Aires, the ruling Junta meet again; “Costa Mendez’s view was that, from 1956, Britain’s behaviour was always to deal, but not on the basis of force. Rhodesia was the most recent example. There Britain had abandoned 600,000 British subjects. The sum of perceptions led to the conclusion that Britain would not respond with force. .. How could we doubt his judgement?”
After the meeting, Dr. Costa Mendez makes a public statement; “a firm decision has been taken to give the men on South Georgia all necessary diplomatic protection…nor is this protection diplomatic only, since there is a navy ship called Bahia Paraiso in the area to provide any necessary protection.”
March 27th – Ambassador Williams reports his fears that Dr. Costa Mendez has been less than honest with him, that the Argentines had been “playing us along” and that the Bahia Paraiso appears to have armed marines on board; “ .. I cannot, however, discount the possibility that any action on our part to disrupt the Argentine working party at Leith will be taken as a trigger for armed action by the Argentines.”
Stephen Love, the British defence attaché, observes a number of ships, and a submarine, leaving Buenos Aires.
PM Thatcher considers taking the issue to the ICJ; ”if we win or if we lose, at least we know where we are.”
March 28th – Lord Carrington telegrams US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig in Washington to appraise him of the situation; “ … I should accordingly be grateful, if you would consider taking the matter up with the Argentines. Stressing the need to defuse the situation and find a solution we can all accept. … I fear the gravest consequences.”
All leave for military and diplomatic staff is cancelled by the Junta.
Ambassador Williams is informed by the Foreign Ministry that; “The activities of the group of workers disembarked at Leith are of a private and peaceful character based on the undisputed fact that they were known in advance by Her Britannic Majesty’s Government and in any case on the fact that they are being carried out on territory subject to the special regime agreed in 1971 between the Argentine and Great Britain. It is moreover within Your Excellency’s knowledge that these territories are considered by the Argentine Republic as her own and that the sovereignty dispute about them had been recognised by the United Nations in its relevant Resolutions. Your Excellency’s Government has accepted the existence of the sovereignty dispute.
However the British Government has reacted in terms which constitute a virtual ultimatum backed by the threat of military action in the form of the despatch of the naval warship Endurance and a requirement for the peremptorily immediate evacuation of the Argentine workers from the Island. … In light of this attitude my Government can only adopt those measures which prudence and its rights demand, in this context the Argentine workers in South Georgia must remain there since they have been given the necessary documentation to do so. … the present situation is the direct result of the persistent lack of recognition by the United Kingdom of the titles to sovereignty which my country has over the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. This is confirmed by the negative attitude of your Excellency’s Government throughout many years of negotiations ….”
Military aircraft overfly Port Stanley.
Ambassador Williams reports that Costa Mendez is insisting that South Georgia is included in the white card scheme.
In the Falklands, Governor Hunt responds on receiving a copy of the Argentine message; “The 1971 Communications Agreement does not apply to the Dependencies .. (and) .. does not absolve the holder of the requirement to present himself to an immigration officer at a recognised port of entry … I am appalled at the arrogance of the message which confirms my previous fears that the Argentine Government are using Davidoff as a front to assert with a physical presence their sovereignty claim over South Georgia.”
Elements of the Argentine fleet sail out of Puerto Belgrano, including the Cabo San Antonio, a tank landing ship, and the troop carrier, Islas de los Estados. Intelligence indicates that the Argentine submarine, Sante Fe, is making a reconnaissance of the beaches near Stanley.
The Bahia Paraiso is observed holding station, 15 miles off the north coast of South Georgia.
March 29th – a British nuclear powered submarine, HMS Spartan, is directed to embark stores and weapons at Gibraltar while the Admiralty order the support vessel, RFA Fort Austin, from Gibraltar to resupply HMS Endurance. Defence Secretary John Nott advises the Prime Minister that it will take a week to ready a “viable” naval force, then three more weeks to get them to the Islands; although a group of 7 destroyers and frigates, on exercises near Gibraltar, could be in the South Atlantic in two weeks.
In Buenos Aires, newspapers refer to the cancellation of all military leave, and report that 5 Argentine warships are heading towards South Georgia. Ambassador Williams writes; “I am receiving gestures of sympathy … but I fear that in general, the Argentine Government will not only gain in popularity by playing the jingoist drum, but be accepted as doing the right thing in taking even the most extreme measures.”
March 30th – while demonstrations in Buenos Aires’Plaza de Mayo call for democracy, four more Argentine warships are reported as sailing from Puerto Belgrano. The FCO telegram Argentina’s Foreign Minister; “ .. The potentially dangerous position which has now developed has in no way been of our seeking. .. A confrontation, which could have far-reaching consequences and which would seriously prejudice our attempts to resolve the whole Falklands issue through peaceful negotiation, is in neither of our interests. ..”
In London, the Defence Operations Executive receives intelligence of an Argentine task force lying 800 miles north off the Falklands; consisting of an aircraft carrier, 4 destroyers and an amphibious landing craft. Reports suggest that the Junta do not believe it likely that Britain will send naval reinforcements.
March 31st – all the Argentine fleet are reported to be at sea.
Now aware of the submarines heading towards the South Atlantic, Foreign Minister Costa Mendez is widely quoted as saying that; “Argentina would not give way to threats of force, ..” and that the workers at Leith are; “.. Argentine workers working on Argentine soil.”
Intelligence reports being received in London indicate that April 2nd has been appointed as the Junta’s ‘day of action’ and that an infantry brigade has been readied for an invasion. Evidence suggests an unusual level of co-operation between the three Argentine military services. GCHQ Cheltenham reports Argentine radio traffic ordering the submarine Sante Fe, to take reconnaissance troops to Mullet Creek, near Stanley.
Defence Secretary John Nott seeks an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister; “ … John gave the MOD’s view that the Falklands could not be retaken once they were seized. This was terrible, and totally unacceptable. I could not believe it: these were our people, our islands. I said instantly: “if they are invaded, we have got to get them back.”
Admiral Sir Henry Leach advises the British Prime Minister that Britain could and should send a task force if the islands are invaded; ”Because if we do not, or if we pussyfoot in our actions and do not achieve complete success, in another few months we shall be living in a different country whose word counts for little.”
Governor Hunt, informed of the probability of an invasion, orders HMS Enduranceback to Stanley – while the British Prime Minister contacts President Reagan requesting his intervention with General Galtieri.
April 1st – at the UN, Britain’s permanent representative Sir Anthony Parsons, demands that the Security Council convene and call upon the Argentine Government to refrain from the use of force in the South Atlantic. “.. we had never been to the Security Council before with this dispute. It had only touched the Fourth Committee; it had scarcely been to the plenary of the General Assembly and it hit everyone by surprise. The day before the invasion I got word to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council which I did. I rang up colleagues in turn personally, saying would you be down at the Council in an hour’s time, the invasion of the Falklands is pending. My American colleague (Jeanne Kirkpatrick), who was very mixed up with Latin American policy, said that I had gone mad and that she would block the vote.. I said that if you are going to block me from having a meeting you will have to do it in public and I shall insist on a public meeting so ..? My Russian colleague said: it is April 1st and I know this is an April Fool’s joke, the kind of thing you do the whole time, but you don’t know your own rules; it is after mid-day. I had quite a problem persuading him that this was serious … ”
On being informed that a meeting of the Security Council is to be held, Argentina’s representative responds that: “It was ironic and inadmissible for the Council to be convened by the United Kingdom on that day to consolidate the spoils of colonial plundering. Argentina rejected being accused when in fact what should be judged, if justice was to be served and peace preserved, was the conduct of the accuser.”
US Secretary Haig sends a message to Carrington, indicating that the USA will do all it can to help and that their Ambassador in Buenos Aires is seeking an urgent meeting with President Galtieri.
Haig calls on the Argentine Ambassador in Washington to tell him that the use of force; ”Would reverse our cooperation in Central America and the hemisphere. The reaction of the American people will be overwhelming, we will have to side with the British, and US-Argentine relations will be back to the worst days.”
ARA Guerrico, a corvette with two helicopters and 40 marines aboard, joins the Bahia Paraiso at South Georgia.
In London, intelligence reports suggest that an invasion force is assembling off Stanley. This information is relayed to Governor Hunt; “ We have apparently reliable evidence than an Argentine task force will gather off Cape Pembroke early tomorrow morning 2 April. You will wish to make your dispositions accordingly.”
In Washington, Britain’s Ambassador receives a message from the State Department; “… that their Ambassador has informed them from Buenos Aires of his meeting with the Argentine President. The latter would not say what the Argentines were going to do. The Americans have deduced from this that the Argentinians are therefore planning to go through with their military operation. The Argentine President muttered some mumbo-jumbo, to use the State Department’s phrase, about the need for the British to talk about surrendering sovereignty. The State Department are now asking President Reagan to telephone the Argentine President personally…”
British forces in the UK are put on immediate notice of deployment.
Governor Hunt warns the population of the Islands before deploying the remaining Royal Marines, together with elements of the local defence force. Governor Rex Hunt reports his dispositions to London; “(1) Royal marines disposition will be made near expected landing beach and will do what they can to contain landing and to defend airport. (2) FIDF will round up Argentines in Stanley before dawn tomorrow and bring them to Government House for safe-keeping. They will then deploy at probably helicopter landing sites. (3) Marines will fall back to outskirts of Stanley but will not fight in Stanley. Survival party will take off to the hills as Argentine forces reach Stanley. I shall remain at Government House. ..”
President Reagan telephones PM Thatcher with the result of his conversation with President Galtieri; “ .. I conveyed to him my personal concern about the possibility of an Argentine invasion. I told him that initiating military operations against the Falkland islands would seriously compromise relations between the United States and Argentina and I urged him to refrain from offensive action. I offered our good offices and my readiness to send a personal representative to assist in resolving the issues between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The General heard my message, but gave me no commitment that he would comply with it. Indeed, he spoke in terms of ultimatums and left me with the clear impression that he has embarked on a course of armed conflict. We will continue to cooperate with your Government in the effort to resolve this dispute. Both in attempting to avert hostilities and to stop them if they should break out. While we have a policy of neutrality on the sovereignty issue, we will not be neutral on the issue of Argentine use of military force.”
Permission is sent to Governor Hunt to destroy Stanley airstrip; “ .. if you can do so, to prevent it being used after invasion to resupply an invasion force.”
April 2nd – at 3.25 am Falklands’ time, Governor Hunt declares a state of emergency.
At 4.30am, Operation Rosario commences with Argentine special forces landing at Mullet Creek for a surprise attack on Moody Brook Barracks. The noise of automatic gunfire alerts the population in Stanley.
Argentine marines come ashore in amphibious vehicles at York Bay while a C-130 transport plane loaded with Argentine troops, lands at Stanley airfield. The Argentine troops move onto the road towards Stanley but are engaged by a section of Royal Marines commanded by Lt. Trollope. Two missiles hit an Argentine Amoured Personnel Carrier before the section retires. After finding Moody Brook empty of British troops, Argentine special forces attack Government House. They encounter well placed British defences, and suffer the first casualties of the war. Three Argentine prisoners are taken.
At 8.30 am, the main invasion force arrives off Port Stanley
9.15am: Surrounded, Governor Hunt negotiates a ceasefire with Rear-Admiral Carlos Bussers.
10.30am: Governor Rex Hunt formally surrenders the Falklands to General Osvaldo Garcia. Hunt refuses to shake Garcia’s hand, telling the General that; “This is British property and you are not invited”. Garcia responds; “It is very ungentlemanly of you to refuse to shake my hand” to which Hunt replies; “It is very uncivilised of you to invade my country.”
Brigadier General Mario Menendez is appointed governor of the ‘Islas Malvinas’. Rex Hunt, in full regalia, together with his family and the surrendered Marines, are airlifted to Montevideo.
At 4.30pm, the Governor’s telex-operator has a conversation with an operator in London.
LON (London): HELLO THERE WHAT ARE ALL THESE RUMOURS WE HEAR THIS IS LONDON
FK (Falklands): WE HAVE LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS
LON: WHAT ABOUT INVASION RUMOURS
FK: THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS I WAS MEANING
LON: THEY HAVE LANDED
LON: ARE YOU OPEN FOR TRAFFIC IE NORMAL TELEX SERVICE
FK: NO ORDERS ON THAT YET ONE MUST OBEY ORDERS
LON: WHOSE ORDERS
FK: THE NEW GOVERNORS
LON: ARE THE ARGENTINIANS IN CONTROL
FK: YES YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH THOUSANDS OF TROOPS PLUS ENORMOUS NAVY SUPPORT WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 1600 STRONG. STAND BY.
An emergency meeting of the Cabinet in London approves the formation of a Task Force to retake the islands.
“I received advice from the Foreign Office which summed up … that Department. I was presented with the dangers of a backlash against the British expatriates in Argentina, problems about getting support in the UN Security Council, the lack of reliance we could place on the European Community or the United States, the risk of the Soviets becoming involved, the disadvantage of being looked at as a colonial power. All the considerations were fair enough. But when you are at war you cannot allow the difficulties to dominate your thinking: …. And anyway what was the alternative? That a common or garden dictator should rule over the Queen’s subjects and prevail by fraud and violence? Not while I was Prime Minister.”
In Buenos Aires, President Galtieri reports the success of the invasion to the Argentine people in a short broadcast; “Compatriots: We have recovered, safeguarding the national honor, without rancor, but with the firmness that the circumstances require, the Austral Islands that make up the national heritage … by legitimate right. The step just taken was decided without taking into account any political calculation. It was designed on behalf of each and every one of the Argentines, regardless of sectors or factions and with the mind set on Governments, institutions and people than in the past, without exceptions; and through 150 years, have struggled to claim our rights. I know, and we acknowledge with deep emotion, that already the whole country lives the joy of a new gesture and it is preparing to defend what you own regardless of sacrifices, …”
Galtieri is greeted by jubilant crowds (estimates exceed 200,000), in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. There are reports of people dancing in the streets.
“ .. Argentine press reports indicate that some 4,000 to 5,000 troops are on the Islands, and the 10 to 14 naval ships in the area include the country’s only aircraft carrier as well as several guided missile destroyers, frigates, corvettes, transport and amphibious craft, and at least one submarine.”
Britain breaks off diplomatic relations and gives Argentina’s Ambassador 4 days to leave the country.
Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, sends a message to all the Commonwealth Heads of Government calling for them; “ … to stand by Britain in this matter, consistent with your support for the principles of territorial integrity, the right of self-determination and the rejection of the use of force..”
Australia’s envoy to the United Nations, David Anderson, denounces Argentina’s invasion to the Security Council; “ … We have considered carefully the statements made in this Council yesterday and this morning by the distinguished Representative of Argentina. Nothing contained in those statements could justify the act of aggression which has been committed by the Argentine armed forces in clear violation of Article 2.3 and Article 2.4 of the Charter of the United Nations.”
A Decree from the new Governor, activates a post code designation for the Falklands – 9409. Major Patricio Dowling takes charge of both internal security and the Islands police station.
In New York, the British Mission to the UN considers its tactics for the Security Council; “ .. We decided in the Mission that if we were going to get a Resolution – we didn’t think the odds were good but we must do it quickly, avoid all the negotiations over blue drafts and black drafts and I don’t know what other drafts, we must slap down something we could live with – we must demand that Argentina withdraw and we must get a vote on it within 24 hours because if we allowed it to drag out it would be fatal. So we did exactly that; we put the Resolution down in final form and there was a very rigorous debate… “
The USA’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, attends a dinner given in her honour by the Argentine Ambassador. Her attendance is criticised in both the New York Times, and Washington Post.
April 3rd – in The Guardian newspaper; “At a defensive and unhappy press conference in the Foreign Office – itself a rare event – Mr. Nott denied as “ridiculous and quite untrue” rumours at Westminster that he had offered his resignation to Mrs Thatcher, and Lord Carrington rejected with a shake of his head any suggestion that he might resign. But the irony of a government elected to strengthen Britain’s defence posture finding itself in this position will not be lost on MPs …”
PM Thatcher speaks to an emergency session of Parliament; ” The House meets this Saturday to respond to a situation of great gravity. We are here because, for the first time for many years, British sovereign territory has been invaded by a foreign power. After several days of rising tension in our relations with Argentina, that country’s armed forces attacked the Falkland Islands yesterday and established military control of the islands…. I must tell the House that the Falkland Islands and their dependencies remain British territory. No aggression and no invasion can alter that simple fact. It is the Government’s objective to see that the islands are freed from occupation and are returned to British administration at the earliest possible moment….
The Government have now decided that a large task force will sail as soon as all preparations are complete. HMS Invincible will be in the lead and will leave port on Monday. … The people of the Falkland Islands, like the people of the United Kingdom, are an island race. Their way of life is British; their allegiance is to the Crown. They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance. It is the wish of the British people and the duty of Her Majesty’s Government to do everything that we can to uphold that right. That will be our hope and our endeavour and, I believe, the resolve of every Member of the House.“
On the advice of two former Prime Ministers, Harold Macmillan, and James Callaghan, PM Thatcher forms a committee to oversee the crisis. Dubbed the ‘War Cabinet’ (OD(SA)) is made up of, in addition to the PM, Foreign Secretary Francis Pym, Defence Secretary John Nott, Home Secretary William Whitelaw, Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey Howe and Conservative Party Chairman Cecil Parkinson.
The Bank of England freezes all Argentine assets and Argentine imports are banned. Argentina responds by a tit-for-tat freezing of British assets and a ban on imports. To avoid the possibility of a technical default, Argentina insists that it will continue to pay interest on its outstanding international debts via an escrow account in New York.
Britain approaches the European Union and, in particular, West Germany – Argentina’s largest trading partner within the EU – for an embargo of Argentine imports and exports. At the same time, British Embassies throughout the world initiate approaches to the various Heads of State with requests for support.
7.30am local time on South Georgia, the commander of the ARA Bahia Paraiso demands the surrender of Grytviken, erroneously claiming that Governor Hunt has already surrendered the Dependencies. The British commander declines.
America’s Central Intelligence Agency inform the President; “The Argentines continue to provision and reinforce their initial landings … The British, who will lack a land base and probably face logistical problems, will be hard pressed to oust a force of the size anticipated. … Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador have given unqualified support to Argentina’s claims, but have expressed hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Venezuela, traditional supporters of Buenos Aire’s claims, has thus far withheld open support and called for a negotiated settlement. The Chileans, now negotiating with Argentina for control of the Beagle Channel, refuse to support Argentine claims.”
11.40am: Argentine troops are transported by helicopter from the Bahia Paraiso to King Edward’s Point on South Georgia. A squad of Royal Marines engage the Puma helicopters bringing one down.
11.47am: the ARA Guerrico gives supporting fire to its marines, but her guns jam after only half a dozen rounds have been fired.
11.59am: one seaman on the ARA Guerrico is killed by small arms fire from Royal Marines on the shore. More than 200 rounds are fired at the Corvette which suffers considerable damage. Reinforcements from the Bahia Paraiso land on South Georgia.
Outnumbered, Royal Marines commander, Lieutenant Keith Mills, surrenders South Georgia, together with 22 marines and 13 BAS staff. Another 13 BAS staff in field parties are distributed around the Island. The wildlife film-maker, Lucinda Catherine “Cindy” Buxton is also isolated on South Georgia.
In Buenos aires, President Galtieri summons the German Ambassador; “Galtieri, who looked nervous, began by saying that he wished to explain the Argentine position to friendly countries with the aim of bringing about a diplomatic solution to the Falkland crisis…. the German Ambassador asked whether Argentina was still prepared to hold talks aimed at reaching an honourable solution … Galtieri replied that everything was negotiable with the exception of final recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the Islands.”
France agrees to stop supplying Argentina with Exocet missiles, Super Etendard aircraft and Pucara aircraft engines and to withdraw her technical teams.
At the United Nations, Sir Anthony Parsons, obtains the Security Council Resolution he has been working for; “ .. I avoided the sovereignty issue, because I knew I was on a very sticky wicket on that and concentrated entirely on the illegality of the acquisition of territory by war, my eye being on the Arabs. .. to my amazement we wont it – we got our Resolution.”
Attempts to delay a Resolution are defeated in a procedural vote. During the debate, Argentina’s representative states; “.. that his Government had proclaimed the recovery of its national sovereignty over the territories of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich islands in an act that responded to a just Argentine claim, an act of legitimate defence in response to the acts of aggression by the United Kingdom. Argentine jurisdiction extended throughout the islands, an Argentine Governor being there. He emphasized that in that manner an end had been put to a situation of tension and injustice that had been a constant element of disturbance to international peace and security. He added that his country would act in conformity with the principles and purposes of the Charter and make every effort to reach a just and peaceful solution.”
UN Security Council Resolution 502 –
” The Security Council,
Recalling the statement made by the President of the Security Council at the 2345th meeting of the Security Council on 1 April 1982 calling on the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to refrain from the use or threat of force in the region of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas),
Deeply disturbed at reports of an invasion on 2 April 1982 by armed forces of Argentina,
Determining that there exists a breach of the peace in the region of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas),
1. Demands an immediate cessation of hostilities;
2. Demands an immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas);
3. Calls on the Governments of Argentina and the United Nations to seek a diplomatic solution to their differences and to respect fully the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
April 4th – Senegal offers staging facilities via Dakar airport for British military aircraft heading to and from Ascension Island. Venezuela and Panama issue statements in support of Argentina.
In the Falklands, the settlements at Goose Green and Darwin are occupied by Argentine troops. Reg Silvey, Falklands lighthouse keeper, establishes radio contact with the UK.
HMS Conqueror, sails for the South Atlantic from Britain.
In Buenos Aires, newspapers report that the loss of the Falkland Islands means that Britain will also have to forgo its claims to the Antarctic territories. La Prensa tells its readers that; “The recovery of Malvinas, by our country, was a matter of international priority in the entire world.”
Rear-Admiral Eduardo Girling summons the German military attache to announce that the Falklands would be defended with all available means, including Soviet assistance which would be accepted for this purpose.
Two Argentine postal officials travel to the Islands.
The Washington Post reports; “Britain’s Prime Minister spoke the simple truth when she labeled the Argentine act, “unprovoked aggression.” It is more than likely that the Argentines have made a serious mistake … for Mrs. Thatcher is a tough woman… the British do not appear to be in a mood to be pushed around.”
April 5th– aircraft carriers, HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes, sail for Ascension Island. HMS Yarmouth and HMS Broadsword are ordered to Gibraltar.
Following recriminations in the press, Lord Carrington resigns as Foreign Secretary, together with Foreign Office Ministers Richard Luce and Humphrey Atkins. Lord Pym is appointed as the new Foreign Secretary. The Defence Secretary, John Nott, also offers his resignation but the Prime Minister refuses to accept it.
Messages of support from the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Belize, Nepal and Mauritius, arrive in London. Other countries make statements deploring the Argentine invasion. Portuguese Foreign Secretary, Dr. Leonardo Mathias, is reported as saying that if Britain asks to use the Lajes Air Base, in the Azores, to refuel, that request would probably be granted. The Government of New Zealand breaks off diplomatic relations with Argentina, while Australia recalls is Ambassador to Buenos Aires. Canada also recalls its Ambassador and imposes an arms embargo on Argentina. Chile condemns Argentina’s use of force.
At an impromptu news conference, President Reagan admits that; “… the confrontation between Britain and Argentina has put the United States in a very difficult position because it is friendly with both countries. “
Governor Hunt and the captured Royal Marines arrive back in the United Kingdom. Hunt reports; “The Argentine occupation forces have imposed strict military rule …The Islanders are under house arrest until further notice, and anyone defying this order is threatened with immediate imprisonment. … Other penalties have been imposed in the face of growing hostility from the Islanders. These include 30 days in prison for rude gestures against the military, 60 days for irreverence to the Argentine flag… Messages from radio hams … say that troops are searching homes and confiscating equipment.”
HMS Endurance moves away from South Georgia.
Governor Rex Hunt, together with Royal Marine Majors Norman and Noott, brief the Prime Minister. “The Prime Minister congratulated the party on the courage they had shown … She .. enquired whether those in Port Stanley in the days preceding the invasion had been any more aware of the likelihood of an invasion. The Governor replied in the negative. He had been inclined to think that the Argentine President was sabre rattling as on previous occasions. … Major Noott said that the Argentine forces had not appeared to be particularly skilled or brave. They had, for example, shown reluctance to go outside Port Stanley because they had heard that a section of six marines were still at large …”
April 6th – Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury sends his envoy, Terry Waite, to the Vatican with a request for the Pope to appeal to Argentina to obey international law; “The Archbishop believes the Pope has already done this privately but the Archbishop (whose Province includes the Falklands) believes that a public utterance by the Pope would have an impact on Argentinian opinion as it is a strongly Catholic country.”
A letter is smuggled out of the Falklands; “On behalf of the civilian population of the Falkland Islands, we, the undersigned Civil Servants and Administrators, request that a protecting power be appointed to help to arrange the temporary evacuation of the civilian population of these Islands under the terms of the Geneva Convention. We further request the immediate dispatch to Port Stanley of an Observer from that power.”
America’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research submits an analysis; “The British fleet will reach the Falkland area around April 20. We believe that Thatcher will be under heavy pressure to order it into action if no compromise has been negotiated or is in prospect. She will not have the option of delaying indefinitely while diplomatic efforts continue. The effectiveness of the fleet, far from its maintenance bases, will rapidly deteriorate after its arrival on station. Her damaged leadership could not survive a futile “voyage to nowhere.”
April 7th – Germany, Nigeria and Denmark condemn Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands. SS Canberra is requisitioned as a troop carrier by the British Government.
Foreign Secretary Francis Pym addresses the House of Commons; “The whole House and the country is struck by the appalling nature of the aggressive action the Argentine regime has committed… The British ambassador in Buenos Aires and most of his staff are being withdrawn. … A small British interests section will continue to work in the Swiss embassy, and we are most grateful to the Government of Switzerland, who are most expert in these matters, …. What we in Britain must now do, with the support and backing of all freedom-loving countries right across the world, is to see to it that Argentina’s illegal and intolerable defiance of the international community and of the rule of law is not allowed to stand.”
A 200 mile ‘maritime exclusion zone’, to take effect on the 12th, is declared by the British Government.
An American intelligence report notes; “According to Embassy London… Tory moderates and Foreign Office are concerned that Prime Minister Thatcher has been listening largely to the Ministry of Defence, especially senior naval officers, and may not adequately be considering non-military options. … Second thoughts are surfacing among Argentine politicians about the wisdom of President Galtieri’s adventure as it becomes clear that the cheap victory so confidently expected may still elude them..”
President Reagan approves an attempt at mediation to be led by US Secretary Alexander Haig.
Argentina’s new Governor, Brigadier General Benjamin Menendez, flies to the Falklands to be sworn in; in a ceremony at which Archbishop Desiderio Elso Collino, the chaplain general of the armed forces, officiates; “The gaucho Virgin is Mother of all men, but is in a very special way the Mother of all Argentines, and has come to take possession of this land, which is also her land.”
April 8th – economic retaliation continues, with operating rights allowing Argentine airlines to fly into Heathrow suspended and Australia banning Argentine imports; “Mr. Fraser said that his Government would not have done this for any other country in the world. They had done so because it was Britain and Mrs Thatcher who were concerned.”
A Chiefs of Staff meeting proposes an operation to retake South Georgia before the end of the month; “I received the clear impression that the Defence Staff have drawn a distinction between an operation against South Georgia (which they regard as certain) and operations against the Falkland Islands (which they regard as subject to parallel political or diplomatic activity).”
Alexander Haig arrives in London, the first stop in his ‘shuttle diplomacy’ attempt to mediate. Margaret Thatcher is briefed; “For the meeting with Mr. Haig, you should be aware that the United States intelligence agencies are helping and supporting our own intelligence effort with unreserved openness and generosity. Mr. Haig himself has assured Sir Nicholas Henderson that if there is anything we need in the area of covert support and assistance we have only to ask. Profiting from this, a telegram of requests has already gone over to Washington.”
The Prime Minister meets Alexander Haig at 7.30pm. During the discussion Secretary Haig admits that, although it failed to see the invasion coming, British intelligence had put together a compendium that was; “ .. much better than anything which the United States had compiled.”
Haig suggests a three part solution involving – a) Argentine withdrawal, b) a return to the administrative status quo that had existed before the invasion, and c) a return to negotiations between Britain and Argentina. He adds that stages a) and b) would be supervised by an international body. Thatcher is unwilling to accept the involvement of an international body unless it is prepared to supervise a test of self-determination for the Islanders. Both Haig and Thatcher recognise that this would not be acceptable to Argentina.
America’s Embassy in Buenos Aires, telegrams the US Embassy in London; “Under Secretary Ros called me in this morning to discuss arrangements for the Secretary’s visit. He complained about the harsh statements coming out of London .. He emphasized that the Foreign Ministry wants and has always wanted a negotiated solution. The problem is that Ros and Costa Mendez do not speak for the navy. We are getting ultra-tough sounds out of that quarter, including statements that the Secretary (Haig) should not come here … feelings are running high in the navy. One bitter complaint is that the commandos failed to have complete surprise and thus took casualties .. because we had given the British advance intelligence obtained by ‘satellite’.”
Aware of an Organisation of American States (OAS) meeting, Britain’s Ambassador in Washington, Sir John Nicholas Henderson, informs London; “There is an intense debate among the OAS delegations here, including the American one, about the legal questions involved in invoking the Rio Treaty. Some contend that the Falklands dispute falls outside the legislative (not geographic) scope of the Treaty …. others are reluctant to see the Treaty invoked lest it be used by Argentina to legitimize its invasion. … To convene the OAS under the Rio Treaty and to pass a Resolution requiring action would need 15 to 16 votes which it (Argentina) is not at present finding it easy to obtain.”
In TheWashington Post; “Argentina will have to give first, for Britain is determined, as it must be, that the English-speaking Falklanders choose their own fate and affiliation. At issue is not so much a disputed claim to abstract sovereignty as the principle of negotiated self-determination on which Britain’s peaceful dissolution of the Empire has been based since World War II.”
At the UN, Argentina condemns the 200-mile maritime exclusion zone’ as a “blockade” – an act described included in the General Assembly’s definition of ‘aggression,’ – and states that it will exercise its right of defence under Art.51 of the Charter.
April 9th – 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines) sails from England aboard the SS Canberra.
Secretary Haig reports back to Washington; “The Prime Minister has the bit in her teeth, owing to the politics of a unified nation and an angry Parliament, as well as her own convictions about the principles at stake. She is clearly prepared to use force, though she admits a preference for a diplomatic solution. She is rigid in her insistence on a return to the status quo ante, and indeed seemingly determined that any solution involve some retribution. .. All in all, we got no give in the basic British position ..“
In Brazil, the Jornal do Brasil announces; “We are on the edge of a confrontation. The fact that a powerful fleet was ready to sail after only 5 days preparation when the normal time for an operation of such scope is usually much greater, is a clear indication of English intentions. … It is important, however, not to lose sight of the fact that there took place a violent action – and that any possibility of a successful outcome to any negotiations depends on the fact that acceptable satisfaction is given to the country that suffered the action – in this case England…. The possibility that Argentina could invoke, in its defence, the Rio Treaty, is fading away: and this means simply that Argentina cannot make use of the natural instrument for the defence of countries of the continent. And it cannot, because it was, in this case, the aggressor. ..”
Forced to land at Brasilia, a Cuban plane is found to be loaded with electronic surveillance equipment.
American intelligence reports; “… the Argentines are reportedly lengthening the air strip in Port Stanley to accommodate A-4, MIRAGE, PUCARA, and C-130 aircraft and reinforcing the island with additional troops and air defence equipment…”
April 10th – in Moscow, Pravda reports; “ …. The times when disputes could be settled by gunboat diplomacy are gone … it is clear that Britain is responsible for the consequences of this reckless policy, for it is precisely Britain that over many years stubbornly refused to carry out UN decisions on decolonization.”
Economic sanctions against Argentina are approved by the European Economic Community; to come into force on the 16th for a period of one month.
Letters start to appear in the Falklands, addressed to the Argentine conscripts; “Dear Friend, Argentine Soldier – From the depths of my heart, today I send you these few lines and hope that as you receive them you find yourself in very good health. I hope that in defending our sovereignty you do it for the love of God and love for the Motherland. Every day we pray that God help you and that it might end soon, we are proud of you.” [Mostly from school children, and obviously dictated, many examples were found after the surrender. Child 2008.]
Secretary Haig arrives in Buenos Aires.
In Buenos Aires, President Galtieri speaks to a patriotic rally taking place in the Plaza de Mayo; “The people of Britain have not yet heard a single word of attack or a single word outraging their honour and reputation, until now. I ask as President of the Nation to the English Government and the English people to moderate their expressions and show restraint in their actions. This Argentine Government together with the Argentine people, represented here in this meeting,, will be very angry and will reply with strong emphasis if you continue to offend us. You know and the world knows that the Argentine people have a strong will. If they want to come, come and we will offer battle.”
The UK’s Mission to the UN considers the legality of the exclusion zone; “The General Assembly’s definition of aggression (contained in Resolution 3314 (XXIX) recalls that it is for the Security Council, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, to determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of peace or act of aggression. Article 2 of the definition states that – “The first use of armed force by a State in contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie evidence of an act of aggression.” Resolution 502 (1982) adopted by the Security Council on 3 April 1982 referred to – “an invasion on 2 April 1982 by armed forces of Argentina” – and went on to determine that a breach of the peace existed … Article 3(a) of the definition states that – “the invasion … by the armed forces of a State, of the territory of another State” – qualifies as an act of aggression. Accordingly, a true reading of the definition of aggression together with resolution 502 (1982) leads inexorably to the conclusion that it is Argentina which is committing aggression by its invasion and first use of force in defiance of the appeal made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of the Council on 1 April 1982 (s/14944). Moreover, Resolution 502(1982) leaves no doubt that it is Argentina which bears responsibility for the current breach of the peace in the region. … Article 3(c) of the definition of aggression lists – “the blockade of the … coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State – as an example of aggression. … The UK is not “another State” because the maritime exclusion zone surrounds British territory.”
Three members of the Swiss Parliament suggest that the conflict can be resolved by an arbitration panel; along the lines of the Alabama Claims.
Haig negotiates with the ruling Junta at the Palace in Buenos Aires.
April 11th – John Cheek, the only Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Council in London, writes to the Prime Minister suggesting that an ‘Andorra’ style arrangement may be an acceptable solution; with the territorial integrity of the Islands guaranteed by Britain and other permanent members of the Security Council.
Interviewed on BBC radio, Francis Pym is asked whether Argentine shipping will be sunk if found within the exclusion zone. Pym replies; “That is the position.”
Information is received from the Swiss charge d’affairs in Montevideo, that the 22 Royal marines, and 3 civilians, captured on South Georgia are being moved, but their destination is unknown.
Jeanne Kirkpatrick, interviewed on US national television, says that she does not see a need for the US to make a choice between Argentina and Britain and that the only appropriate action is for the US to help both countries avoid war. Kirkpatrick states that the US has never taken a position on the Falklands, adding; “ .. that if the islands rightly belonged to Argentina its action could not be considered as ‘armed aggression’.”
Peru calls for a 72 hour truce; “In order to avoid an armed confrontation which would constitute … a serious threat to international peace and security.”
Secretary Haig telegrams London from Buenos Aires; “ … I now expect to arrive in London about 0630 am Monday April 12. … In the meantime, I am sure you would agree that any military confrontation must be avoided at all costs until you have been able to consider this draft proposal. Although it is clear serious problems remain; some progress has been made.”
Margaret Thatcher responds; “I should certainly prefer to avoid military confrontation. But Argentina is the aggressor, and is still trying to build up the occupying force in the Falklands. The right way to prevent naval incidents is therefore for Argentina to remove all her naval vessels from the maritime exclusion zone. The Argentine Government has had plenty of warning.”
April 12th – 4.00am: the 200 mile exclusion zone comes into effect.
Haig returns to London to negotiate with the British Government. On his arrival, he receives information from Washington that there are 34 Soviet fishing vessels in the area of the Falkland Islands, providing intelligence to the Soviet Union.
He also receives a telephone call from Costa Mendes in Buenos Aires; “ Senor Costa Mendes had told him that he saw no reason for him, Mr. Haig, to go to Buenos Aires again unless any agreement about the Falkland Islands provided for the Governor of the Islands to be appointed by the Argentine Government and for the Argentine flag to continue to be flown there. If that was not possible, the the Argentine Government must have assurances that at the end of negotiations with Britain there would be a recognition of Argentine sovereignty.”
Haig responds via the US Embassy in Bienos Aires; “I have introduced ideas here along the lines discussed at the presidential palace Saturday night… The talks have been exceedingly difficult, but some progress has been made. I hope to leave here this evening for Buenos Aires… Time is of essence. The British will not withhold the use of force in the exclusion zone unless and until there is an agreement. I hope to bring to Buenos Aires a U.S. proposal that holds the prospect of agreement, thus averting war.”
Informed of the telephone call by Costa Mendes, the Prime Minister responds that; “ .. the Argentines were clearly playing for very high stakes. We could not possibly accept Senor Costa Mendes’ demands.”
The Government of Japan calls upon Argentina to withdraw from the Falklands.
In Buenos Aires, La Prensa announces that Peruvian armed forces have been put on alert. This is subsequently denied by the Government in Lima.
Ambassador Derek Mellor, in Paraguay, is informed that the Government of Paraguay will not; “take sides.”
Argentina writes to the UN stating; “ .. its readiness to withdraw its forces as called for under the 3 April Council resolution, on condition that the United Kingdom ceased hostilities and did not attempt to use the resolution to justify a return to the previous colonial situation…”
HMS Spartan arrives ‘on station’, off Port Stanley.
April 13th – in a response to Peru’s 72-hour truce proposal, the UK tells the UN that; “… since Argentina had initiated the armed confrontation, the first requirement for any solution was the withdrawal of Argentine forces from the Islands and their dependencies, in accordance with the Council resolution of 3 April.”
New Zealand bans all imports from, and exports to, Argentina.
In London, Alexander Haig and the British Government continue to talk. “ Mr. Haig said that he wished to take stock. As we knew, he had heard overnight from the Argentine Foreign Minister that his Government needed an outcome to the negotiations which embodied a de facto change in the administration of the Islands and a process leading to ultimate Argentine sovereignty. … the proposal for an interim Commission did not represent a sufficient degree of change towards de facto Argentine administration. The provision for negotiations on the definitive status of the Islands was inadequate as a commitment to ultimate Argentine sovereignty. Commenting on the … Argentine points, the Prime Minister said that they amounted to a demand for the handing of the Islands to Argentina with no provision for democratic processes. … it was essentially an issue of dictatorship versus democracy. Mr. Haig said that he had made it abundantly clear to Argentina that if conflict developed the United States would side with the United Kingdom.”
British Chiefs of Staff assemble at the Ministry of Defence to discuss the retaking of South Georgia.
In Brazil, General Medeiros, the Minister in charge of Brazil’s National Intelligence Service, speaks to Ambassador George Harding; “ Medeiros … said that he thought the Argentine action in invading the Falklands was completely crazy and incomprehensible. He did not see an easy way out of the present impasse.”
Venezuela, at a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, the demands the British fleet’s withdrawal claiming that the Security Council‘s Resolution 502 is biased against Argentina, which had suffered the theft of its territory and was; “justly responding to that robbery.” The final OAS Council resolution only expresses the organisation’s; “profound concern.”
A party of 13 civil servants, including the Chief of Police, the Registrar General and the Chief Secretary, are deported from the Falklands. Executive Council member, Bill Luxton, and his wife, are also deported by ‘Chief of Police’ Patricio Dowling for ‘political reasons.’
April 14th – following discussions with the British Government, Secretary of State Alexander Haig returns to Washington.
PM Margaret Thatcher makes a speech to the House of Commons; “..we seek a peaceful solution by diplomatic effort. This, too, is in accordance with the Security Council resolution. In this approach we have been helped by the widespread disapproval of the use of force which the Argentine aggression has aroused across the world, and also by the tireless efforts of Secretary of State Haig, who has now paid two visits to this country and one to Buenos Aires. On his first visit last Thursday we impressed upon him the great depth of feeling on this issue, not only of Parliament but of the British people as a whole. … We made clear to Mr. Haig that withdrawal of the invaders’ troops must come first; that the sovereignty of the islands is not affected by the act of invasion; and that when it comes to future negotiations what matters most is what the Falkland Islanders themselves wish.
On his second visit on Easter Monday and yesterday, Mr. Haig put forward certain ideas as a basis for discussion – ideas concerning the withdrawal of troops and its supervision, and an interim period during which negotiations on the future of the islands would be conducted. Our talks were long and detailed, as the House would expect. Some things we could not consider because they flouted our basic principles. Others we had to examine carefully and suggest alternatives. The talks were constructive and some progress was made. At the end of Monday, Mr. Haig was prepared to return to Buenos Aires in pursuit of a peaceful solution. Late that night, however, Argentina put forward to him other proposals which we could not possibly have accepted, but yesterday the position appeared to have eased. Further ideas are now being considered and Secretary Haig has returned to Washington before proceeding, he hopes shortly, to Buenos Aires. That meeting, in our view, will be crucial ..”
HMS Antrim, RFA Tidespring and HMS Plymouth, together with Royal Marines and special forces, rendezvous with HMS Endurance near South Georgia.
In the New York Times; “The Argentine position, as outlined by officials here today, is that while it is willing to allow some form of transitional government that could include Britain and a third party such as the United States or the Organization of American States, Argentine sovereignty would have to be recognized by the transitional government. In addition, Argentina would be the final authority on the island even in the transitional phase. One high-ranking military official said that only the Argentine flag could fly.”
Secretary Haig informs President Reagan; “I am convinced that Mrs. Thatcher wants a peaceful solution and is willing to give Galtieri a fig leaf provided she does not have to violate in any fundamental way her pledge to Parliament… Her strategy remains one of pressure and threat; by and large, it’s working. … Galtieri’s problem is that he has so excited the Argentine people that he has left himself little room for maneuver. He must show something for the invasion — which many Argentines, despite their excitement, think was a blunder — or else he will be swept aside in ignominy.”
American newspapers speculate that the USA is already providing the London with assistance in intelligence and operational matters. Alexander Haig telephones the British Prime Minister to outline his fears that these may cause the Argentines to break off negotiations.
In Buenos Aires, Clarin considers Haig’s shuttle-diplomacy; “ Alexander Haig … left Buenos Aires last Sunday with an Argentine proposal for the establishment in the Malvinas Islands of a ‘transitional government’ until December 31, headed by an Argentine Governor, but he also carried a ‘working draft’ … not examined at Presidential level. Secretary Haig sought to use that draft – which at no time became an official document of the Argentine Government – in his conversations with British authorities … in the opinion of officials, with this draft the United States became a defender of Prime Minister Thatcher, instead of a friendly broker. .. Haig went to Washington to await the results of a meeting today of the British Parliament, at which time Margaret Thatcher must report on the results of the lengthy round of conversations … these results are also being awaited with expectations in Buenos Aires, which believes that if the Prime Minister is forced to resign, she might be replaced by current Foreign Secretary Pym or former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington which could perhaps “facilitate conversations on an agreement, and never going back to the status quo that existed on the Islands before the first of April.” If this course were not followed, the sources said that “in the absence of a solution, the alternative could be, regrettably, war” …”
Brazil’s Jornal do Brasil argues that the principle question is not one of sovereignty, but the two most important principles of the UN Charter – the right of self-determination and the duty of Governments to put an end to colonialism. The article goes on to question; “.. the right of Buenos Aires to replace British colonisation with Argentine colonisation …”
April 15th – the British destroyer group hold station in mid-Atlantic.
US President Ronald Regan again telephones President Galtieri before speaking to Margaret Thatcher; “General Galtieri reaffirmed to me his desire to avoid conflict with your country, and his fears that conflict would cause deterioration in recently improving relations with the United States. He said that the advance of your fleet and the blockade of the islands were making his situation difficult. … ”
In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry deliver proposals to the US Embassy calling for – (1) cessation of hostilities, (2) withdrawal of both sides from the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands – Argentine forces to withdraw to the mainland and British forces to a distance of 3000 nautical miles within 7 days and to their “usual operating bases” with 15 days, and (3) Britain to adopt measures to comply with Resolution 1514, completing the decolonization by 31 December 1982 in accordance with Resolution 2065; “in this case the principle of Argentine territorial integrity is applicable.” In the interim period the Governor is to be an Argentine appointee.
Argentina’s Junta announce the South Atlantic Operations Theatre, the creation of which; “… is an important element of the defence of our national sovereignty in the large area it covers: 200 maritime miles from the continental coast and around the reconquered islands of Malvinas, Georgias and South Sandwich. Once the “Theatre” has been established, the military Committee may order actions of self-defence in situations that could endanger national security. Vice-Admiral Juan Jose Lombardo, Commander of Naval Operations, has been appointed Commander of the South Atlantic Operations Theatre.”
April 16th – PMThatcher writes to President Reagan; “…We have done our utmost to put Al Haig in a position where he has reasonable proposals to offer the Argentine Government. I regret we have seen no corresponding flexibility on the part of the Argentines. I note that General Galtieri has reaffirmed to you his desire to avoid conflict. But it seems to me … that he fails to draw the obvious conclusion. It was not Britain that broke the peace but Argentina. The mandatory Resolution of the Security Council, to which you and we have subscribed, requires Argentina to withdraw its troops from the Falkland islands. That is the essential first step which must be taken to avoid conflict. …”
Vessels of Britain primary Task Force start to sail from Ascension Island while HMS Sir Tristram arrives from the West Indies. Wideawake Airportregisters 300 aircraft and helicopter movements, giving Ascension Island the busiest airport in the world for a day.
US Secretary Haig arrives in Buenos Aires around the same time that Argentina, at the UN, accuses Britain of “acts of war.”
April 17th – Australia’s Prime Minister Fraser telegrams President Reagan; “In the aftermath of a failure of Al Haig’s efforts, many countries would watch to see and be guided by the stand the United States took. It seems to me that in such circumstances it would amount to a serious blow to western values, and to the western alliance itself, if the United States did not unequivocally support Britain.”
In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry gives a formal statement; “We consider impermissible the attempts by the United Kingdom to re-establish colonial status and we openly oppose such attempts. We qualify them as contradictory to the decision of the UN General Assembly on decolonization of these Islands and as creating a threat to peace and security.”
Pravda reports that the United States is seeking a major military base on the Falklands.
Bill Luxton, who arrived in the UK on the 15th, is debriefed.; “Perhaps 40% of the former population of the town have moved out into the hinterland, where morale is high … There has been no collaboration with the occupying forces. Indeed several Islanders have been openly defiant. … Mr. Luxton was confident that many were determined to stay as long as possible, even if there was fighting. But some might well wish for temporary evacuation … Nor is the Argentine’s attitude to evacuation clear. They are making those who want to leave pay for their passage .. it may be that the Argentines would not wish to see a mass exodus.”
In the South Atlantic, ARA Sante Fe leaves Puerto Belgrano with a compliment of marines and fresh supplies for the Argentine troops garrisoning South Georgia. Argentine postal workers now operating in Stanley commence a run of 2 million stamps commemorating the invasion.
The British submarine HMS Splendid, arrives “on station,” off the Falkland Islands.
In Buenos Aires, Secretary Haig telegrams the US Embassy in London; “I threatened to break off this process. As a result, I was invited to meet with the Junta, and spent two hours with them this morning (Saturday). The character of the group is essentially as I imagined: Galtieri is the least bright and given to bluster; the Admiral is ultra hard-line; the Air Force General is bright, political reasonable relatively speaking, but clearly third in influence. I impressed on these men in the strongest terms that British resolve was beyond doubt, and that they were on a collision course with military humiliation and economic ruin. With the possible exception of the Admiral – whose definition of glory has little to do with military success – I would say these men are worried. … The Junta urged me to stay … I agreed to do so. The ten-hour session that ensued was excruciatingly difficult. … The Argentines are now developing a new formulation but I expect it will be pregnant with the concept of assured Argentine sovereignty. … As of now the situation is grim. I will receive a new Argentine text during the night and then decide whether or not to break off.”
President Reagan telephones Margaret Thatcher to; “… assure the Prime Minister that he well understood what efforts she had made to reach a compromise. He did not think she should be asked to go any further.”
Secretary Haig telegrams Washington; “At 10:40 pm local time we received a very discouraging response which I have asked to discuss tomorrow morning with the junta and the President. I will advise you of the results.”
The Governments of Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia announce that they will increase trade with Argentina to compensate for the economic embargo imposed by the European Union, and other countries.
Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces that three British journalists have been arrested for espionage in Ushuaia.
April 18th – 29 deported Royal Marines and 13 British Antarctic Survey personnel arrive in Montevideo.
Secretary Haig telegrams London; “The Argentines delivered to me at the hotel at 2am this morning a revised text resulting from yesterday’s marathon session. Although their revisions are still unsatisfactory, I believe we now have – for the first time since we began this mission – some movement towards a workable solution … We will renew our deliberations at the Casa Rosada at 2pm local …”
Following a series of threatening telephone calls, the British editor of The Buenos Aires Herald moves to Uruguay.
April 19th – in Madrid, the extreme right-wing Falangist Organisation stage a march in support of Argentina’s take-over of the Falkland Islands and call on the Spanish Government to seize Gibraltar.
Another telegram arrives from Alexander Haig; “We have completed another very long session today – this one running until 2am. We are finally close to what is probably the maximum obtainable from the Argentines. You should understand that there will be some problems for you as it now reads but it is workable. The only remaining element will be addressed later this morning and covers the very important issue of withdrawal of forces where serious problems still remain … I will keep you abreast after today’s meeting.”
Ambassador Henderson in Washington contacts the FCO; “I have just seen McFarlane at the White House who told me that Haig had been on the secure line. He was transmitting to the State Department … the latest text of what the Argentinians were prepared to accept. Clearly, Haig did not think that it would be satisfactory from our point of view…”
In Buenos Aires, the Junta are willing to accept – (1) an immediate cessation of hostilities, (2) neither side shall introduce more forces into the ‘zone’, (3) within 24 hours the UK is to rescind its exclusion zone, (4) withdrawal of half of Argentina’s force within 7 days to Argentina and all of the UK’s to a distance of 1750 nautical miles, (5) the UK’s Task Force and submarines to return to their normal bases within 15 days, (6) Argentina to withdraw its remaining forces within 15 days, (7) all economic and financial sanctions to be terminated without delay, (8) a Special Interim Authority to verify compliance which will also oversee the local authority on the Islands, (9) the Executive and Legislative Councils to have Argentine members, (10) the flags of the UK, Argentina and the members of the Special Interim Authority to fly together, (11) rights of residence, and ownership of property, to be the same for Islanders and Argentinians, (12) “December 31, 1982, will conclude the Interim Period during which the signatories shall conclude negotiations on modalities for the removal of the Islands from the list of non-self governing territories .. and on mutually agreed conditions for their definitive status, including due regard for the rights of the inhabitants and for the principle of territorial integrity applicable to this dispute. ..”
Haig sends a personal telegram to Foreign Secretary Pym in London; “ My own disappointment with this text prevents me from attempting to influence you in any way. As you will see, there are significant steps back from the text you and I discussed in London…… I do not know whether more can be wrung out of the Argentines. It is not clear who is in charge here, as many as 50 people, including Corps Commanders, may be exercising vetoes. Certainly I can do no better at this point… My best immediate judgement in this situation is that I should return to Washington and report to the President.”
The British Government issues a statement to the press; “We have just received the proposals which Mr. Haig has brought out of Buenos Aires. They are complex and difficult, and at first sight they do not meet the requirements strongly expressed by Parliament, particularly on the need to regard as paramount the wishes of the Islanders. We shall be studying them carefully …”
Junta member, Admiral Anaya, visits the Falklands while HMS Conqueror arrives off South Georgia with orders to prevent any Argentine reinforcement of South Georgia.
United Nations Secretary-General, Pérez de Cuéllar, offers his good offices and assistance should the Haig mission fail.
Argentina calls for an emergency meeting of the OAS so that an invocation of the Rio Treaty can be discussed.
April 20th – in advance of a proposed meeting of the the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), being urged by Argentina, the British High Commission ask the Indian Government to press for a statement that is consistent with SC Resolution 502. In information attached to the request, the Commission explains; “The fundamental element of the British Government’s approach to the dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands is that the wishes of the Islanders themselves must be paramount. For their part, the Argentines deny that the Islanders have the right to determine their own future and maintain that the issue is simply one of decolonisation. The Falkland Islands issue is not one of declonisation. As normally understood, decolonisation has consisted of the withdrawal of an alien administering power and the transition of new states to independence in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of their people, to whom sovereignty and the powers of sovereignty are transferred. The UN has never countenanced the decolonisation of a territory by agreeing to hand over its people to alien rule in the face of their persistent opposition. For Argentina to incorporate the Falkland Islands in its territory on the pretext of decolonisation would simply constitute the imposition of colonial status on the Islands by force in violation of all UN agreed norms of conduct … It would offend the principle of self-determination…”
Francis Pym assures Haig that the British Government are urgently considering the proposals. Haig responds; “ It is imperative that you maintain military pressure. I see no other way of bringing the Argentines to a position satisfactory to you. … As you know, Argentina has asked for an OAS Council meeting to convoke an organ of consultation under the Rio Treaty. … We propose to abstain on the ground that the Rio Treaty was not designed to apply to cases in which members themselves took acts of force…”
Junta member, Lami Dozo (air force), visits the Falklands while 12 teachers from the Islands arrive at Montevideo having refused to work with the Argentine authorities on the Islands.
At the meeting of the OAS, the majority of member countries are supportive of Argentina, there is no decision on any action. The Mexican representative says that his country will not impose sanctions on Britain regardless of whether or not the OAS vote for it. Further discussion is deferred to the 26th.
April 21st – Francis Pym makes a statement to Parliament regarding his imminent departure to Washington; “ .. Any negotiation which is concluded satisfactorily must deal with certain critical points: in particular the arrangements for the Argentine withdrawal; the nature of any interim administration of the islands, and the framework for the negotiations on the long-term solution to the dispute for which the United Nations resolution calls. We put to Mr. Haig, when he was in London, ideas which we believed would commend themselves to the House and accord with the wishes of the islanders. He subsequently took them to Buenos Aires. The latest Argentine proposals—despite Mr. Haig’s efforts—still fail to satisfy our essential requirements in certain important respects relating to these points. They reflect continuing efforts by Argentina to establish by her aggression and her defiance of the United Nations … what could not be established by peaceful means.”
Sir Anthony Parsons telegrams London from the UN; “Yesterday’s vote in the OAS is seen here as a diplomatic setback for us, the first serious one we have encountered since the crisis began. If the Argentines succeed on 26 April in getting a two-thirds majority in favour of economic or other measures against the UK, this will be a major defeat for us in UN terms. .. The Argentines are continuing to press hard for the early adoption of a communique by the [Non-Aligned Movement] Coordinating Bureau. A drafting group has been set up under Cuban Chairmanship consisting of Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Yugoslavia. The present plan is for the Coordinating Bureau to meet on 23 April. The Argentines have apparently shown some flexibility and indicated a readiness to accept a reference to SCR 502, provided that there is a resounding reaffirmation of previous NAM pronouncements on sovereignty. We are working hard on the Commonwealth members of the drafting group, amongst whom Bangladesh is being particularly helpful. …”
Argentine Decree 757 renames Stanley as Puerto Argentino.
In London, the decision is taken to order the recovery of South Georgia. Intelligence suggests that elements of Argentina’s navy, including the aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo, are located between the Argentine coast and the Falklands Maritime Exclusion Zone. A British submarine is ordered into the area.
In Washington, Ambassador Henderson quietly informs Haig of the decision on South Georgia; “Haig’s immediate reaction, when I told him, was one of surprise and concern … He thought that our proposed action would aggravate the problem and make a return to negotiation more difficult … After he had had time to think about it a bit longer, Haig seemed to me to come round more in support of our proposed action, he quite saw the need for us to show firmness, which was all that the Argentine leaders would understand …”
April 22nd – the FCO issue advice to all British nationals in Argentina that they should leave the country as soon as possible.
On his arrival in Washington, Francis Pym notifies London; “Haig wants to return to Buenos Aires for a further (and probably final) effort to find a negotiated solution. He agreed with Mr. Pym that the gap between the Argentine and British positions was a very wide one … he was not optimistic that agreement could be reached.”
In Brussels, the European Parliament criticises the Argentine invasion; “.. profoundly shocked by the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina and more than ever convinced that territorial disputes should be resolved by peaceful negotiations, … Condemns unreservedly the invasion of the Falkland Islands…”
The first elements of the British task force arrives off the Falkland Islands.
On South Georgia, Special Air Service reconnaissance teams are landed – one on the Fortuna Glacier, another 9 miles east of Grytviken. Two Wessex helicopters crash in “whiteout” conditions at the glacier. There are no casualties but the force is taken off again due to the poor weather conditions. HMS Brilliant is ordered to reinforce the ships at South Georgia.
President Galtieri visits the Falkland Islands.
Discussing the OAS and the Rio Treaty, The New York Times says; “Argentina has invoked the wrong Treaty at the wrong time to promote the illusion that all Latin American nations support its seizure of the Falklands. They don’t, and some that do serve only their own territorial ambitions.”
In Washington, Pym and his team work to amend Argentina’s proposals in an attempt to find some ‘middle ground’. The result – (1) an immediate cessation of hostilities, (2) neither side shall introduce more forces into the ‘zone’, (3) within 24 hours the UK is to rescind its exclusion zone, (4) both sides will withdraw half of their forces and equipment within 7 days; with the UK’s force standing off to a distance equivalent of 7 days steaming at 12 knots. Argentina’s forces to be put into a condition whereby they could not be reinserted within 7 days, (5) both sides forces to return to their usual operating areas or normal duties within 15 days, (6) the USA to verify compliance, (7) all economic and financial sanctions to be terminated without delay, (8) a Special Interim Authority to verify compliance which will also ratify decisions made by the local authorities on the Islands, (9) the Executive and Legislative Councils to have Argentine members drawn from the local community, (10) the flags of the UK, Argentina and the members of the Special Interim Authority to fly together at its HQ only, (11) residence and ownership of property to be equal between Islanders and Argentinians without prejudice to the rights of the inhabitants, (12) “December 31, 1982, will conclude the Interim Period during which the signatories shall complete negotiations on removal of the Islands from the list of non-self governing territories .. and on mutually agreed conditions for their definitive status, including due regard for the rights of the inhabitants and for the principle of territorial integrity ..”
Foreign Secretary Pym asks the USA to be the third member of the proposed Special Interim Authority and to offer guarantees for compliance; which is passed to President Reagan for consideration.
Argentine reconnaissance flights over the British Task Force are observed by the fleet.
April 23rd – John Nott supports the MoD’s suggestion for an early deployment of Vulcan bombers to Ascension Island; “The Vulcans with air refuelling has a radius of action and bomb carrying capability to reach the Falkland Islands from Ascension Island which is 3,350 miles away. A force of 10 Victor tankers would be required to support a single Vulcan round trip from Ascension Island. There is enough fuel at Ascension to support this operation. …”
Norway bans imports from Argentina.
In Buenos Aires, the Swiss envoy is asked to deliver a warning to the Argentine Government; “ In announcing the establishment of a Maritime Exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands, Her Majesty’s Government made it clear that this measure was without prejudice to the right of the United Kingdom to take whatever additional measures may be needed in the exercise of its right of self-defence under article ’51 of the United Nations Charter. In this connection, Her Majesty’s Government now wishes to make clear that any approach on the part of Argentine warships, including submarines, naval auxiliaries, or military aircraft which could amount to a threat to interfere with the mission of British Forces in the South Atlantic will encounter the appropriate response. All Argentine aircraft including civil aircraft engaging in surveillance of these British Forces will be regarded as hostile and are liable to be dealt with accordingly.”
A copy of the warning is passed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Inglesias Rouco, in La Prensa, writes; “..this is a time for arms and war is now inevitable.”
At the UN, Sir Anthony Parsons considers another approach to the Security Council; “Recent conversations which I have had confirm that the longer we can keep out of the Council the better. The Non-Aligned members are already feeling slightly uneasy that a combination of our tactics and Panamanian/Argentine clumsiness led them to support a Resolution which contained nothing about the Argentine case on sovereignty. I have also had reliable confirmation that, if we use force, and particularly if we inflict casualties, there will be an immediate return to the Council … and that we will be seriously isolated. .. If the Haig mission collapses, someone is bound to call the Council fairly soon and there will be precisely those calls on us which we wish to avoid, eg. the suspension of military preparations combined with some time-consuming and ineffective mechanism such as the Secretary-General’s good offices. All the above reinforces my conviction that we should for the moment continue to soldier on here for as long as we can, keeping the diplomatic initiative and avoiding recourse to the Council..”
Special forces are landed again on the Fortuna Glacier during a lull in the blizzard. HMS Antrim and HMS Plymouth rendezvous with HMS Brilliant. HMS Endurance remains near South Georgia to stay in touch with the observation parties.
Alexander Haig telegrams PM Thatcher; “Francis Pym and I have just concluded our discussions … He will be bringing back to London a text which I put forward as a basis for a peaceful settlement. Francis made it very clear that some of what I suggested presented problems … Whether the text we have suggested would be accepted in Buenos Aires I cannot say. It would certainly require the Argentines to move well beyond their positions at the end of my latest visit there. .. We are at the point now where we have only the finest tolerance between a peaceful solution and tragedy…”
Argentina, party to the North American Space Agency’s (NASA) Landsat programme, ask NASA for satellite coverage of South Georgia. The Americans quote “technical problems” and decline; “Eagleburger made two further points. First, it was vital that this should not leak. Second, it was obvious that the longer the “technical problems” continued, the more clear it would become to the Argentinians what was happening. The second two days coverage would be of the open sea to the west of S. Georgia. It would be of great help to him … to know whether … this could be of some military value to the Agentinians.”
Pym arrives back in London with the latest version of the Haig peace plan, which he presents to the OD(SA) meeting. Whilst the Foreign Secretary is inclined to accept the plan, Margaret Thatcher announces that she is prepared to resign if the Cabinet agree with him; “The document [Pym] brought back was a complete sell-out . . . a Foreign Secretary of Britain recommended peace at any price. Had it gone through, I could not have stayed.”
The Cabinet’s decision is not to reject the plan outright, but to rely on President Galtieri rejecting it first.
PM Thatcher telegrams Secretary Haig; “This whole business started with an Argentine aggression. Since then our purpose together has been to ensure the early withdrawal by the Argentines in accordance with the Security Council Resolution. We think therefore that the next step should be for you to put your latest ideas to them. I hope that you will seek the Argentine government’s view of them tomorrow and establish urgently whether they can accept them. Knowledge of their attitude will be important to the British Cabinet’s consideration of your ideas.” Haig agrees to present his ideas to Costa Mendez.
General Oscar Joffre, with the Argentine 10th Infantry Brigade, and Brigadier General Omar Parada, with the 3rd Infantry Brigade, arrive to reinforce the Falklands.
HMS Brilliant, HMS Antrim and HMS Plymouth regroup at South Georgia while Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward’s force rendezvous with the destroyers in the Atlantic.
April 25th – Ambassador Charles Wallace, in Lima, reports to London; “Sources close to the President told me yesterday that he was deeply worried about the present situation. It was also suggested to me that there might be in existence a secret undertaking between the Argentine and Peruvian armed forces dating from … 1979. .. The terms of the undertaking would commit the armed forces of each country to the defence of the other in case of aggression by a third, clearly with Chile uppermost in mind”
ARA Sante Fé, having landed 50 reinforcements and supplies for the garrison on South Georgia, is seen leaving Grytviken by the helicopter from HMS Antrim. The helicopter crew attacks the submarine with depth charges while helicopters from the other British ships arrive and join in. Badly damaged, Sante Fe is abandoned in shallow water by the BAS jetty at King Edwards Point and its submariners flee towards Argentina’s Grytviken base.
Seizing the initiative, albeit contrary to the original plan, the British commander at South Georgia order an immediate attack. An ad hoc company of 72 men is formed of those Royal Marines, Special Boat Service and Special Air Service personnel which are on hand.
This diverse assortment of specialists land under covering fire from Antrim and Plymouth‘s 4.5” guns. Argentina’s 137 Argentine troops, together with the submarine’s crew, surrender without a fight. The only reported casualty is an Argentine submariner with a leg wound sustained when Sante Fé was attacked.
BBC Radio reports; “… at about 6 pm London time, the white flag was hoisted in Grytviken beside the Argentine flag. Shortly afterwards, the Argentine forces there surrendered to British forces. The Argentine forces offered only limited resistance to the British troops. Our forces were landed by helicopter and were supported by a number of warships, together with a Royal Fleet Auxiliary. During the first phase of this operation, our own helicopters engaged the Argentine submarine, Santa Fé, off South Georgia. This submarine was detected at first light and was engaged because it posed a threat to our men and to the British warships launching the landing. So far, no British casualties have been reported. ..”
A message from South Georgia is relayed to London;
” Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God Save the Queen.”
In New York, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, says, in an off-the-cuff remark, that Argentina is now at war. This is not confirmed by his Government in Buenos Aires. The BBC report ant-British demonstrations in Buenos Aires, while in Venezuela shipping workers boycott British ships.
April 26th – Argentine troops stationed at Leith, on South Georgia, surrender without a fight.
Australia’s prime Minister issues a press statement; “The British Government’s decision to use force to re-establish its administration in South Georgia is a natural consequence on the invasion of the Falklands and South Georgia by Argentine forces, and the failure of Argentina to comply with the demands of the United Nations Security Council to withdraw its forces. Argentina has refused to take effective action to settle the dispute by peaceful means, and has ignored repeated warnings from the British Government that the circumstances justified the use of force. The Argentine Government continued to reinforce its military presence in the Falklands. The British military action should therefore not have come as a surprise…”
Margaret Thatcher pens a memo to Secretary Haig; “The repossession of South Georgia of course alters the situation regarding the tremendous efforts you are making to produce a negotiated settlement of the present crisis. On the one hand there is the important change that the Falkland Islands Dependencies are no longer occupied by Argentina. On the other hand, the successful British military action should bring home to Argentina her interests in negotiating seriously for a settlement..”
A ‘defence area’ is declared around the task groups as it sails south. Argentine troops stationed at Leith, on South Georgia, surrender.
Speaking to the BBC, Margaret Thatcher states that the time for diplomacy is running out; “... Democratic nations believe in the right of self-determination. . . . The people who live there (Falklands) are of British stock. They have been for generations, and their wishes are the most important thing of all. Democracy is about the wishes of the people.”
Speeches to the OAS meeting in Washington are reported to London; “ … Most Rio Treaty signatories were represented … Costa Mendez’s violent speech was followed by warm applause. A firm statement by Haig that force had been used by an American State and Security Council Resolution 502 laid down the basis for a settlement was greeted with total silence. .. Costa Mendez claimed … British aggression threatened not only Argentina but the peace and security of the whole Latin American region. The British attack on South Georgia demonstrated how the UK disregarded the course of peaceful negotiation. The UK had answered Argentina’s peaceful intentions with “an act of war. .. Argentina would defend itself to the maximum extent: the Argentine flag would not be lowered until the last drop of blood had been expended by the Argentine soldiers..”
Ambassador Henderson also reports; “Haig has telephoned me following his speech at the OAS which he said went down like a lead balloon. Nobody was likely again to call him even handed. He had spoken to Costa Mendez and told him that time had run out. Haig said that he would be presenting his proposals to the Argentinians on a take it or leave it basis. They would have 24 hours in which to answer yes or no.”
Estanislao Valdes Otero, the President of the OAS, sends a message to PM Thatcher; “.. I have been instructed to transmit the appeal of the Foreign Ministers of the Americas that the Government of the United Kingdom .. immediately cease the hostilities it is carrying on within the security region defined by Article 4 on the Inter-American Treaty of reciprocal Assistance, and also refrain from any act that may affect inter-American peace and security and immediately to call a truce that will make it possible to resume and proceed normally with the negotiation aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict, taking into account the rights of sovereignty of the Republic of Argentina over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands and the interests of the Islanders. ..”
On the Falklands, Governor Menendez appoints himself as Head of the Malvinas Joint Command.
April 27th – Secretary Haig sends a message to Francis Pym; “We believe that your success on South Georgia may now give us greater reason to hope that the Argentines will regard the presently drafted framework as a preferred alternative to further armed conflict. If this hope is not misplaced, we may have an extremely critical opportunity – perhaps the last – before an escalation of the fighting takes place … we have proposed to the Argentines that I leave for Buenos Aires as soon as that can be arranged – perhaps in the next few hours. .. If I do not go to Buenos Aires, I will instruct our Ambassador there to deliver our text and ask for a prompt Argentine reply, thus .. we should know within a day or two whether there is reason to hope that a settlement can be reached..”
Ambassador Henderson in Washington telegrams John Nott; “.. had a general discussion with Weinberger, .. he is delighted by the South Georgia operation and tells me that the President is also. He is sceptical whether the current negotiations are going to get anywhere. ..”
The Daily Star newspaper speculates about Chilean cooperation with Britain in exchange for arms sales.
Henderson contacts the FCO; “Haig has telephoned me again … He said that the Argentinians had come forward with three alternatives. The first was that he should go to Buenos Aires but only after the conclusion of the OAS debate which would mean not earlier than Wednesday 28th April. Haig had replied .. that would be too late. The second proposal was that Haig should ask HMG to halt the advance of the British fleet. Haig rejected this as quite impossible. .. The third idea was that Haig should transmit his proposals immediately through the USA Embassy in Buenos Aires. He has decided to do this…”
Plans for the retaking of the Falklands, Operation Sutton, are presented to the War Cabinet. Sir Ian Sinclair QC advices the British Government that Argentine prisoners must be treated as prisoners-of-war under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.
Henderson sends another telegram; “Haig just told me that US Ambassador is on way to see Galtieri. He has delivered proposals to Costa Mendez. He will give him one hour to study them..”
Argentine naval forces are deployed to intercept the British fleet.
In Washington, the OAS continue its discussions. Only Guatemala and Nicaragua endorse Argentina’s invasion while Mexico, Trinidad, Costa Rica and Colombia are all critical.
On the Falklands, 14 Islanders, deemed ‘troublemakers’ are detained at Fox Bay East.
April 28th – Secretary Haig telephones Francis Pym; “ Mr. Haig said that there was still no word from Buenos Aires. There appeared to be a stalemate, with the Navy in favour of action, and the Air Force and Army preferring negotiation. … if there was still no reply by the morning of 29 April, the United States would go public. ..”
In London, the Prime Minister tells a meeting of the OD(SA) that the American proposals for an Anglo-Argentine agreement have been communicated to the Argentine government with the request that they should be accepted without amendment or rejected, but that, as yet, no reply had been received from the Argentines.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appeals to both Britain and Argentina to discharge their obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
In Washington, a final Resolution is adopted by the OAS urging Argentina and the UK to; “ .. immediately to call a truce that will make it possible to resume and proceed normally with the negotiation aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict, taking into account the rights of the sovereignty of the Republic of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands and the interests of the Islanders.” On leaving the OAS meeting, Costa Mendez tells the waiting press that; “The first phase – OAS endorsement of Argentinian sovereignty – is complete.”
Francis Pym telegrams Washington; “ … The (OAS) Resolution is not acceptable to us. We cannot forego our undoubted rights of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, as the Resolution suggests we should. The OAS Resolution is to be conveyed to the President of the Security Council. Argentina may additionally seek an early debate in the Council and the adoption of a Resolution on similar lines. We have so far been successful in keeping the issue out of the Council since the adoption of SCR 502. … We will be working hard to achieve this.”
Haig telephones Pym from Washington; “He had just spent one and a quarter hours with Costa Mendez who had made a clear and plaintive request for the negotiating process to continue. Costa Mendez has said that the alternatives were for Argentina to bring in “the others” (by which Haig presumably meant the Russians: Haig commented that he doubted that they would be interested) or go to the UN. He had asked Haig whether he would forward further suggestions to us. Haig had told him that the proposals as they stood offered Argentina more than she could reasonably have expected. There was no hope of improving them. .. On emerging from the State Department, Costa Mendez had said publicly that he had not rejected the US proposals and that the negotiating process continued…”
Francis Pym contacts Ambassador Henderson; “I know that Haig will let you know, and that you will report to us immediately, when there is any clear response from Galtieri and the Junta. Should they accept the American proposals I do not have to tell you that the political situation here will be extremely difficult to handle and we will need time for appropriate consultations. .. In the event of Argentinian acceptance, American willingness to give a precise security guarantee of the Islands and Dependencies is absolutely essential so that there can be no question of reoccupation by the Argentines or an Argentinian change of mind during the withdrawal process..”
In Buenos Aires, notification of a ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ around the Falklands archipelago is delivered to the Argentine Government, via the Swiss Embassy.
At the UN, Sir Anthony Parsons provides details of the zone to the President of the Security Council, adding; “Port Stanley airport will be closed, and any aircraft on the ground in the Falkland islands will be regarded as present in support of the illegal occupation and, accordingly, is liable to attack.”
Peruvian airport workers impose a boycott of British aircraft and cargoes.
Argentina, in a letter to the UN, describes the declaration of a ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ as a “new act of aggression” and calls the British use of armed force; “ … an unjustified act of reprisal aimed at restoring colonial occupation of the Argentine islands;..” Argentina also asserts that it is; “ … impossible for the United Kingdom to claim the right of self-defence, under Article 51, in islands situated 8,000 miles from British territory.”
April 29th – British medium-range, Vulcan bombers arrive at Ascension Island. Intelligence suggests that Brazil is selling aircraft to Argentina’s Air Force.
Margaret Thatcher sends a message to President Reagan; “.. the proposals must now be regarded as having been rejected by the Argentines, who have ignored the deadline and publicly restated that they are not prepared to alter their position on sovereignty.”
Pym messages Haig with the British Cabinet’s view that; “.. the combination of Argentinian delay and their request for amendments, together with their repeated public insistence that there can be no compromise on the issue of sovereignty, must be construed as an Argentinian rejection of the United States Government’s proposals as they stand. It is therefore our very firm expectation … that you will confirm this publicly tonight and that we shall henceforth be able to rely on the active support of the United States ..”
President Reagan responds to Margaret Thatcher; “ .. There can be no doubt about our full support for you and the principles of international law and order you are defending. You can count on that support in whatever forum this issue is debated. You can also count on our sympathetic consideration of requests for assistance.”
In Washington, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Costa Mendez, finally reports his Government’s rejection of Haig’s final proposal; “ … As my Government has already indicated to you, Argentina’s objective is the recognition of its sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. That central element of our discussions is the ultimate justification for the actions undertaken by my country and .. is for us an unrenounceable goal. .. To the extent that the provisions relating to the recognition of our sovereignty are imprecise, we deem necessary, if we wish to avoid a return to the frustrating situation that existed prior to April 2, the establishment of mechanisms that give us greater powers for the administration of the Islands… The document you sent falls short of Argentine demands and does not satisfy its minimum aspirations… As concerns the question of sovereignty, all precision regarding the concept of territorial integrity has been abandoned, and a new element has been introduced, a virtual referendum to determine the “wishes” of the inhabitants, in open opposition to United Nations Resolution 2065 …. we cannot accept these changes…”
Argentina announces a 200 mile exclusion zone against British shipping and aircraft, extending from the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Its fleet prepares to intercept Britain’s Task Force. Consisting of 2 attack groups; one moves towards the north-west of the Falklands, while the other approaches the Islands from the south. The British force is moving on the Islands from the east.
PM Thatcher, in updating Parliament, deals with a suggestion of arbitration; “ Although we have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich or British Antarctic Territory, some of my right hon. and hon. friends have suggested that we refer the matter to the International Court of Justice. Since Argentina does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the court, the issue cannot be referred for a binding decision without her agreement. We have never sought a ruling on the Falkland Islands themselves from that court, but we have raised the question of the dependencies on three separate occasions—in 1947, 1949 and 1951. Each time Argentina refused to go to the court. In 1955, the British Government applied unilaterally to the International Court of Justice against encroachments on British sovereignty in the dependencies by Argentina. Again, the court advised that it could not pursue the matter since it could act only if there was agreement between the parties recognising the court’s jurisdiction. In 1977, Argentina, having accepted the jurisdiction of an international court of arbitration on the Beagle Channel dispute with Chile, then refused to accept its results. It is difficult to believe in Argentina’s good faith with that very recent example in mind. There is no reason, given the history of this question, for Britain, which has sovereignty and is claiming nothing more, to make the first move. It is Argentina that is making a claim. If Argentina wanted to refer it to the International Court, we would consider the possibility very seriously. But in the light of past events it would be hard to have confidence that Argentina would respect a judgement that it did not like.”
In a letter to the UN, Britain expresses its surprise that the OAS resolution of the 28th had failed to mention Argentina’s armed invasion of the Islands or urge Argentina to withdraw.
Ernesto Sabato, a staunch opponent of the Junta writes in La Nacion; ”In Argentina it is not a military dictatorship that is fighting. It is the whole people, her women, her children, her old people, regardless of their political persuasion. Opponents to the regime like myself are fighting for our dignity, fighting to extricate the last vestiges of colonialism. Don’t be mistaken, Europe, it is not a dictatorship that is fighting for the Malvinas; it is the whole nation.”
Sir Anthony Parsons informs London; “I have spent most of the day in the company of all other members of the Security Council. There is an atmosphere amongst them of great tension and expectation eg of a dramatic military move by us any day now, but no sign that any of them are contemplating calling the Council. This hesitation may disappear if Haig announces failure .. tomorrow…”
US Secretary Haig updates his country’s House Foreign Affairs Committee; “ … I think it is awfully important to understand how this thing has played out along the way. We went first to London, then to Buenos Aires, and then again to Buenos Aires, as you know. We had extensive discussions at the highest level. In Great Britain it was relatively easy because the government is structured and organised pluralistically and democratically. The Cabinet sits down with the Prime Minister, and business is done. In Argentina …. there is no one who can make a decision. There are variously from 20 to 40 people who can cast a veto on any decision that is made. And so instead of a concensus of what you would call a majority view, it is the lowest common denominator of the most extreme view that prevails…. I must say that the British Government, from the outset, has been reasonable and easy to deal with. Their position has been that sovereignty is not a critical issue. What is a critical issue is that the will of the population, self determination is the key issue. And if the population decides to go with Argentina, so be it; if they decide to stay aligned with Britain or seek independence, so be it. The British are prepared to accept that. .. On the Argentine side, despite all our effort …. the Argentines have insisted bedrock, fundamental a priori relinquishment of sovereignty, either in the near term … or as a precondition for negotiation, that the only negotiations that would be acceptable to them would be those that would lead to a transfer of property to Argentina. So it’s not just a question of decolonization; its a question of recolonization on top of decolonization.”
During the questions that follow, Secretary Haig is asked about taking the sovereignty issue to either the ICJ or the World Court. He responds; “.. it would be rejected out of hand by the Argentines. I have talked adjudication by the World Court, by the UN, or by a special commission. It was rejected all.”
The US Senate resolves; “ … that the United States cannot stand neutral with regard to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 502 and recognizing the right of the United Kingdom, and all other Nations, to self-defence under the UN Charter, should therefore prepare, through consultations with Congress, to further all efforts .. to achieve full withdrawal of Argentinian forces from the Falkland Islands.”
At the UN, Argentina accuses the UK of; “unleashing a new colonialist war.”
April 30th – the US Ambassador in Buenos Aires informs Secretary Haig; “ I asked to see President Galtieri and was received at midnight .. I told Galtieri that we came without instructions and with the only purpose of seeing what we could do to head off a fatal confrontation. I pointed out to the President that we had not received an adequate response to our proposal and that we would announce tomorrow several measures against Argentina. During more than an hour’s conversation, he demonstrated no give whatsoever ..”
The Junta in Buenos Aires impose general censorship for reasons of, “national security.”
Investigative journalist Jack Anderson, speaking on the Good Morning America television programme, alleges that the British Task Force is armed with tactical nuclear weapons and that the Commander has permission to use them.
Reagan’s deputy National Security Advisor, Bud McFarlane, informs him that the Soviet Union has repositioned a satellite in order to keep track of the Task Force.
In Washington, President Reagan calls a National Security Council meeting to discuss the situation. Haig informs the meeting that; “… Unfortunately, the Argentine government which is, in fact, made up of many moving and conflicting parts could not agree to the plan. The Navy holds the veto and is even more intransigent after losing South Georgia, whose Argentine garrison surrendered without firing a shot – a fact known to the Argentine government, but not to the Argentine people.”
In a press statement following the meeting, Alexander Haig announces Argentina’s rejection of his peace proposals; “ We had reason to hope that the United Kingdom would consider a settlement along the lines of our proposal, but Argentina informed us yesterday that it could not accept it. Argentina’s position remains that it must receive an assurance now of eventual sovereignty, or an immediate de facto role in governing the islands, which would lead to sovereignty. For its part, the British Government has continued to affirm the need to respect the views of the inhabitants in any settlement. … in the light of Argentina’s failure to accept a compromise, we must take concrete steps to underscore that the U.S. cannot and will not condone the use of unlawful force to resolve disputes .. The President has therefore ordered: the suspension of all military exports to Argentina; the withholding of certification of Argentine eligibility for military sales; the suspension of new export-import bank credits and guarantees; and the suspension of commodity credit corporation guarantees.”
At the UN, coinciding with Haig’s press conference, Costa Mendez, tells Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar that his country does not see the American negotiations as being ‘dead’. He asserts that Argentina is ready to abide by Resolution 502 and accept a transitional administration; “ .. until the exercise of full Argentine sovereignty became possible.”
President Reagan terminates Haig’s peace mission, declares US support for Britain and imposes economic sanctions on Argentina.
Foreign Secretary Pym makes a statement to the British press; “Mr. Haig has told us that Argentina has rejected his proposals for a negotiated settlement; and he has just announced this in Washington .. In deciding not to cooperate in negotiations for a peaceful settlement, the Argentines have confirmed their commitment to aggression in defiance of the UN ..”
Alan Copeland of the Daily Express asks whether Pym’s planned trip to see the Secretary-General of the UN precludes any immediate use of force by Britain. Francis Pym responds; “No, because we are facing force now. As I have described they have a fleet at sea, they’ve got thousands of soldiers on the islands, they’re occupying territory which they have no right to occupy. No. We are going to maintain our total exclusion zone. That is the position. If they challenge it, then of course there will be military action and that’s how it is …”
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister makes a statement; “I have just learnt with profound concern of the attitude of the United States in imposing sanctions against the Argentine Republic and in supporting Great Britain. I must point out that the Resolution of the .. (OAS).. is obligatory for all the States members of the Treaty of Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance. … The Resolution recalls the declaration of the Inter-American Legal Committee in the sense that, “the Argentine Republic has an unimpeachable right of sovereignty over the Islas Malvinas.” This is a legal and moral obligation which the members of the Treaty have assumed by virtue of the Resolution. In these circumstances the support which has been announced and declared by the United States for Great Britain and the imposition of sanctions against the Argentine Republic constitute disregard of the obligation which the United States assumed .. That country’s vote of abstention does not prevent it from accepting and respecting the said Resolution. ..”
Brazil writes to the Secretary-General requesting the use of his ‘good offices’ in finding a peaceful solution, adding; “It is the responsibility of the United Nations to take prompt and effective measures, including those of a preventative nature, to ensure the implementation of Security Council Resolution 502 (1982) in all its aspects.”
Unconfirmed intelligence suggests that Peru is providing military aircraft to Argentina ‘on loan.’
At the UN, Costa Mendez contacts the President of the Security Council and puts a number of points; (a) he reaffirmed Argentina’s wish for a negotiated settlement: (b) Argentina was ready for the implementation of SCR 502 “as a package”: (c) Argentina hoped that there would be no confrontation. The UK was using disproportionate force and an armed encounter could have unforeseen consequences: (d) Argentina was ready to accept a transitional period in which all aspects of the dispute could be resolved: (e) the question of sovereignty was of the greatest importance to Argentina. Argentina was disposed to accept a mutually agreeable formula on sovereignty during the transitional period: (f) so far as Argentina was concerned, Haig was still in action but his latest proposals on sovereignty had not been acceptable to Argentina. Kamanda subsequently telephoned to say that Costa Mendez had telephoned him to add a seventh point … viz (g) Argentina would accept the presence of a UN force in the Islands in order to enable Argentina to withdraw and to begin the transitional period.”
Costa Mendez then repeats Argentina’s position to the Secretary-General before announcing his country’s willingness to comply with SCR 502 to Washington’s press corps.
From the British Embassy in Washington, Ambassador Henderson reports on Argentina’s economic position; “Major US banks are seeking to limit use of Argentine short-term credit lines to the levels reached before the crisis. Smaller banks with a high exposure in Latin America are pulling out as soon as credits mature, and building their liquidity against the possibility of deposits being shifted away from them. One of these banks felt that even if there was an immediate political settlement, there was no way that Argentina could avoid going broke within 2 months or so, …”
At the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar summons Sir Anthony Parsons; “Costa Mendez had said that Argentina was ready to abide by SCR 502. There would of course have to be a phasing out period for the withdrawal of Argentine troops: and a transitional administration until the full exercise of Argentine sovereignty became possible. Recognition of Argentina’s right to sovereignty was a basic condition. Apart from that, Argentina was ready to enter into negotiations on the widest possible basis. She was ready to take into consideration the “interests” of the Islanders but not their “wishes” which had been imposed by the Administering power. But she could accept a form of local administration which retained a British flavour .. Argentina was therefore open to all possibilities, except on sovereignty….
In reply … I said that it was impossible for the British Government to concede sovereignty in advance, or to accept conditions implying that they were prepared to concede sovereignty. I thought that when Costa Mendez said that Argentina was ready to implement SCR 502 in its entirety, he was implying that he would start at the bottom end of the Resolution. Pérez de Cuéllar said that Costa Mendez had told him that Argentina wished to begin implementation with negotiations. I pointed out that this confirmed that the Argentines were not prepared to withdraw without securing recognition of their sovereignty in advance. … Britain could not accept a process of mediation or negotiation while the Argentines dug themselves in…. Finally, Pérez de Cuéllar said that, if Argentina stated officially that Haig’s mission was dead, a void would exist which he and the Security Council would be expected to fill. ..”
Parsons telegrams the FCO; “Costa Mendez’s various statements here today amount to a smart PR move… My guess is that his purpose has been to present the Argentine position in the most favourable light particularly in UN eyes and try to distract attention from US and UK responses to the failure of Haig’s mission. He has succeeded in creating the impression of a change in the Argentine position … I do not think however that we need to take Costa Mendez’s PR success too tragically. His statements have been small beer by comparison with those of Haig … and they will soon be overtaken by a presumably less diplomatic response from the Generals in Buenos Aires ..”
Ambassador Henderson agrees; “This looks like standard Costa Mendez tactics which are to pretend that the Argentinians are prepared to withdraw their forces and thereby comply with SCR 502, while they are in fact only prepared to do so if they retain a large measure of de facto control over the Islands and the question of sovereignty is pre-judged in their favour. There is a need to expose these tactics, and the fact that Costa Mendez really counts for nothing in this affair. The decisions are made by the Junta and they are taking a different line.”
Argentina submits a letter addressed to the Security Council; “ … the United Kingdom has no legal grounds whatsoever for invoking the right of self-defence provided for in Article 51 of the Charter in justification of the military aggression it is carrying out in the South Georgia Islands. The fact that three weeks elapsed between Argentina’s recovery of those islands for its national patrimony and the British attacks which began on 25 April, and the fact that the islands are 8,000 miles from the territory of the United Kingdom, clearly show how inappropriate it is to invoke Article 51 of the Charter as justification for this manifestly illegitimate use of force. …. The Argentine forces … certainly exercising the right of self-defence in order to repel a grave and imminent danger, have continued their resistance in the South Georgia Islands, thus giving the lie to the United Kingdom’s statements that its authority has been restored in those territories. With regard to the United Kingdom’s allegation that my country has violated Council resolution 502 (1982), I must point out that the Argentine Republic on several occasions reiterated before the Council its intention to comply with that resolution … However, the continuation of the British Government’s punitive actions compels my country to exercise its right of self-defence …”
Exercising his right of reply, Parsons also addresses the Security Council; “On 3 April 1982, notwithstanding current action in the Security Council and the adoption of SCR 502, Argentina carried out an armed invasion of the island of South Georgia. The small British garrison resisted but was eventually captured. On 25 April, in exercise of the inherent right of self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, British forces re-established British authority on South Georgia. … There is no question of the United Kingdom Government having acted aggressively, having in any way breached the terms of SCR 502 (implementation of para.2 of which by Argentina is still awaited by the international community) or of having caused a breach of international peace and security. …”
Argentina declares that all British ships, including merchant and fishing vessels, operating within the 200-mile zone of the Argentine Sea, of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, together with any British aircraft, military or civil, which fly through Argentine airspace, will be considered hostile.
May 1st – after a long flight from Ascension Island, XM607, a Vulcan bomber, attacks the Falklands airfield. At dawn Sea Harriers from HMS Hermes attack targets in and around Stanley and Goose Green.
HMS Glamorgan, HMS Arrow and HMS Alacrity bombard Stanley airfield, and are in turn attacked by 3 Mirages, one of which is shot down. The ships sustain only minor splinter damage. An Argentine Canberra bomber is also shot down whilst within the exclusion zone.
In London, the Ministry of Defence issues a statement; “We have been enforcing the Total Exclusion Zone since noon London time on Friday, 30 April in exercise of the right of self-defence …”
British special forces reconnaissance teams land on the Falkland Islands.
Spain’s Government protests the British air attack alleging that it; “.. constitutes a serious escalation in the conflict. The possible outbreak of a more generalised and massive British action in the archipelago would mean a tragic loss of human lives and would signify great responsibility and a historic error. The Spanish Government from the beginning of the conflict has let its position be clearly known: it is absolutely contrary to the use of force, a position which it now reaffirms. On the other hand it deplores the fact that in spite of its efforts in the international fora and in bilateral contacts no account has been taken of the fundamental colonial problem which is the origin of the conflict and on which Spain has always supported Argentina’s traditional position, in agreement with the doctrine of the United Nations. …”
At the UN, the President of the Security Council calls for information. Sir Anthony Parsons him that “… In my letter of 28 April concerning the Total Exclusion Zone, I set out the text of an announcement by the Government of the United Kingdom to the effect that from 1100 hrs on 30 April 1982, “Port Stanley airport will be closed, and any aircraft on the ground in the Falkland Islands will be regarded as present in support of the illegal occupation and, accordingly, is liable to attack” ..”
In the Falklands, following the air attack on Goose Green, 114 settlers from the settlement are interned at the Recreation Club by Lieut. Col. Piaggi. The Club has two toilets, a bar and running water but no food supplies. Argentine soldiers loot the civilian’s houses and park helicopters amongst the buildings to deter attack.
American newspapers quote an unnamed “senior administration official” as taking exception to Costa Mendez’s claim that Argentina had not rejected the US peace proposal. The New York Times quotes Pentagon officials as saying that communication channels, including satellite communications, have already been made available to Britain.
US intelligence reports Argentina’s Air Force Chief of Staff, Juan Garcia, as saying that Argentina will not be the first to open fire but that an attack on Port Stanley will trigger a full scale attack on the British fleet; “Garcia .. reiterated that the Argentine Government could not present a peace plan to its people that did not assure sovereignty over the Falklands. He also said that British commandos have landed on the islands and Argentine forces are attempting to locate them. If the commandos succeed in mingling with the local population, measures to control the civilians would be imposed.”
President Galtieri addresses the Argentine people in a broadcast; “Fellow Argentines, today, the arms of the Argentine Nation have answered a new act of aggression perpetrated by the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic. They have and are still attacking us, but, we have and will continue to repel them, and this will always be our answer if the enemy intends to again establish a colony on Argentine land. Prior to this attack, during long days and entire weeks, inconceivable pressures have been exerted on our sovereign will, they have depicted us as bloody aggressors; but it is well-known that upon recovering the unredeemed territory that we chose to die instead of killing, and because of this during an unprecedented military operation neither the adversary nor the population of the Malvinas experienced a single casualty.
We have been wronged with sanctions that the great powers avoid enforcing against those they consider to be their worst enemies as if our condition as a young country would make us an easy prey. We have been slandered and insulted, moreover, we have been intimidated, threatened, intrigued against and we have been the victim of all sort of unimaginable maneuvers to discredit us. We have stated our reasons. We have said that for almost one and a half century we either obtained an intemperate negative or the most cynical silence to our persistent claim to our proven rights. We have proven that the United Kingdom decided to send warships in answer to the previously authorized presence of Argentine workers on the Georgia Islands.
Since we were certain that there was no other path to recover our irrevocable sovereignty, we acted as we have, and thus we have shown the world. … our cause is no longer an Argentine problem, it has now become a cause of the Americas and the world which does not recognise colonialism as a situation which can be endured .. The British Empire, encouraged by the alleged results of its campaign of pressure, is resorting to the direct and naked use of force, therefore we have no other alternative than to respond …”
President Belaunde of Peru puts forward ideas for a diplomatic solution including the temporary administration of the Islands until a settlement is found. Argentina demands that any temporary administration of the Islands should be made up of the representatives of Venezuela, Brazil , Peru, Canada, Germany and the USA.
Argentina submits another letter to the Security Council; “.. In accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter, … the successive attacks by the British Air Force against Puerto Argentina in the Malvinas islands were repulsed by my country in exercise of its right of self-defence. In the anti-aircraft action, two Harrier aircraft were shot down, a third was hit … In perpetrating this bloody aggression against my country, the United Kingdom is persisting in violating Security Council Resolution 502 (1982). In the light of these facts, not even the most distorted interpretation of that Resolution (which was adopted in the interests of peace) can be used by the United Kingdom in an attempt to legitimise its irresponsible conduct. The increasing aggression by the United Kingdom against my country is today threatening to unleash an armed conflict of unknown dimensions and unforeseeable implications for international peace and security; the United Kingdom Government will be solely responsible for the breach of such peace and security. Through these actions, the United Kingdom is seeking to arrogate to itself powers which, under Article 24 of the Charter, were granted by the States Members of the United Nations to the Security Council for the discharge of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The United Kingdom is thus thwarting effective implementation of a Council resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom itself. It is now declaring the resolution to be ineffective and is cynically invoking the right of self-defence in seeking to justify an open and brazen act of aggression.”
In London, an official statement reports; “… that an air engagement took place this evening within the Total Exclusion Zone between British Sea Harriers and Argentine Mirages. One Mirage was shot down. There are no reports of damage to British aircraft.”
May 2nd – at 12.45pm in England, PM Thatcher calls a meeting at Chequers where it is agreed; “ .. that British forces should forthwith be authorised to attack any Argentine naval vessel …”
Having just arrived in Washington, Francis Pym hosts a press conference at the British Embassy; “Last week I came here to see Mr. Haig in his role as a mediator, today I have come back to consult him as an ally. The British people are very grateful to the United States for coming down in their support. We never had any doubt that they would come down in support of the victim and against the aggressor … but that does not end the search for a diplomatic solution.”
Pym meets with Alexander Haig to discuss a number of military, diplomatic and economic issues, including the latest Peruvian peace proposal, as viewed by the Americans. This calls for – (1) an immediate ceasefire, (2) mutual withdrawal of forces, (3) a temporary administration made up of third party countries, (4) acceptance by both Argentina and Britain that a dispute over sovereignty exists, (5) acknowledgment that the “views and interests” of the Islanders must be taken into account, (6) a “contact group” of Brazil, Peru, Germany and the USA, and (7) this group would be responsible for reaching a definitive agreement by 30 April 1983.
In Spain, the Prime Minister, Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, speaking at a rally, announces that his Government has offered itself as a mediator to Argentina. He claims that Britain has negotiated, “little and badly,” and adds that Spain has a clearer claim to Gibraltar than Argentina has to the Falklands.
Foreign Secretary Francis Pym flies to New York.
Intelligence reports indicate that Argentina now has 13,000 troops on the Falkland Islands, supported by artillery units armed with 42105mm guns, 4155mm guns, 23 quick-firing anti-aircraft guns plus surface-to-air missiles, plus 23 armoured cars.
Argentina attempts to jam the BBC’s ‘Spanish Service’ to South America.
3.57pm: Whilst approximately 35 miles south-west of the ‘Total Exclusion Zone’, HMS Conqueror fires 3 torpedoes at the Argentine light cruiser, General Belgrano. 2 of the 3 torpedoes strike the ship whose escorts flee.
At the UN, Sir Anthony Parsons is informed; “We have just heard that the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano has been hit by two torpedoes from the submarine HMS Conqueror. … Although the incident took place outside the TEZ it was in accordance with the rules of engagement agreed on 2 May. ..”
In London, the MoD immediately issue a statement; “At approximately 8pm London time this evening the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was hit by torpedoes fired from a British submarine. The cruiser is believed to be severely damaged. On Friday 23 April, HMG warned the Argentine Government that any approach on the part of Argentine warships, including submarines, naval auxiliaries or military aircraft which could amount to a threat to interfere with the mission of British forces in the South Atlantic would encounter the appropriate response. The cruiser posed a significant threat to the British Task Force maintaining the TEZ. The action taken was fully in accordance with the instructions given to the Task Force Commander based on the inherent right of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The British submarine suffered no damage in the engagement and has resumed her patrol.”
4.24pm: the crew of the General Belgrano are ordered to abandon the stricken ship.
The vessel sinks with the loss of 368 lives.
“ Admiral Fieldhouse told us that one of our submarines, HMS Conqueror, had been shadowing the Argentine cruiser, General Belgrano. The Belgrano was escorted by two destroyers. The cruiser itself had substantial fire power provided by 6 inch guns with a range of 13 miles and anti-aircraft missiles.
We were advised that she might have been fitted with Exocet anti-ship missiles, and her two destroyer escorts were known to be carrying them. The whole group was sailing on the edge of the Exclusion Zone. We had received intelligence about the aggressive intentions of the Argentine fleet. There had been extensive air attacks on our ships the previous day and Admiral Woodward , in command of the Task Force, had every reason to believe that a full-scale attack was developing. ….. Admiral Woodward had to come to a judgment about what to do with the Belgrano in the light of these circumstances. From all the information available, he concluded that the carrier and the Belgrano group were engaged in a classic pincer movement against the Task Force. It was clear to me what must be done to protect our forces, in the light of Admiral Woodward’s concern and Admiral Fieldhouse’s advice. We therefore decided that British forces should be able to attack any Argentine naval vessel on the same basis as agreed previously for the carrier…. The Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk just before 8 o’clock that evening. Our submarine headed away as quickly as possible. Wrongly believing that they would be the next targets, the Belgrano’s escorts seem to have engaged in anti-submarine activities rather than rescuing its crew, some 321 of whom were lost ….. “
In New York, Pym and Parsons speak to Secretary-General de Cuéllar, and his assistant Rafee Ahmed, over dinner. Pérez de Cuéllar presents a paper for the Foreign Secretary’s consideration; “ … the Secretary-General would suggest that the two Governments agree to take simultaneously the steps set out below, which are conceived as provisional measures, without prejudice to the rights, claims or positions of the parties. (a) .. both Governments to complete their withdrawal by an agreed date, (b) both Governments commence negotiations to seek a diplomatic solution to their differences by an agreed date, (c) both Governments rescind their respective announcements of blockades and exclusion zones, and cease all hostile acts against each other, (d) both Governments terminate all economic sanctions, (e) transitional arrangements begin to come into effect to supervise implementation of the above steps and to meet interim administrative requirements. The Secretary-General wishes to reiterate his readiness to do all he can to be of assistance .. It would be appreciated if written communications in this regard were received in time for the Secretary-General to make a public announcement on 5 May…”
Sir Anthony Parsons notes; “Pérez de Cuéllar left it to Ahmed to introduce and defend his paper. He seemed to agree with many of your comments on it. Your firmness will, I think, have had a salutary effect on Ahmed who can no longer be under any illusions that his sketchy and ill-thought out ideas have much chance of acceptance. Nevertheless, the fact that the Secretary-General has given you and the Argentines some ideas, which will certainly become known here (I shall be surprised if Pérez de Cuéllar fails to allude to them when he briefs members of the Council), should enable us to gain a little more time here. It would be off-side for anyone to introduce a Resolution into the Security Council when the parties were considering ideas put to them by the Secretary-General.”
May 3rd – in the early hours, Parsons telegrams the British Embassy in Lima regarding Belaunde’s proposals; “ .. please get in touch immediately with the Foreign Minister and/or President’s office to ensure that no announcement is made that implies that we have agreed to these proposals or even had them formally presented to us … The Secretary of State is grateful for the efforts which President Belaunde is making to secure a settlement of the dispute on a basis which respects the basic principles of international law. We will be prepared to consider carefully any ideas presented to us which seem likely to ensure what must be the first requirement: a withdrawal of Argentine troops which unlawfully invaded and occupied the Falklands. But we must be satisfied that the withdrawal is properly supervised, that there will be effective guarantees that the Argentines will implement whatever agreement may be reached, and that any interim arrangements and the framework for negotiations for a definitive settlement are not such as to prejudice the principles to which we attach importance. We are prepared to work hard for a satisfactory solution. But we cannot cut corners when matters of such importance are at stake. Neither can we renounce the exercise of our right of self defence while Argentine troops maintain their unlawful occupation of the Falklands.”
Alferez Sobral, an Argentine ocean-going tug armed with 20mm cannon, attacks a Sea King helicopter inside the TEZ by. Lynx helicopter from HMS Coventry counter-attack, killing 8 of the vessel’s crew and severely damaging the tug.
Ambassador Henderson in Washington receives a telephone call from Secretary Haig; “He told me that he had spoken to the Peruvian President at 1.00am today. The latter complained bitterly that British action had torpedoed the chances of peace. He was critical of the USA as well as the UK. They would both now have to pay a heavy price. He hinted that the Soviet Union would now be increasingly involved. .. It was being put about that the cruiser had been hit as a result of intelligence passed by US satellites and with the help of a special weapon provided by the Americans .. I reminded him that, according to information that he would have seen, the Argentinians had ordered three frigates to attack the Hermes, and the carrier had been given instructions to attack British ships. It could not therefore be said that the Argentinians were behaving peacefully …”
In an official statement Brazil “disagrees” with the armed attacks which it describes as a violation of SCR 502. Cuba condemns the UK and calls for “solidarity” from all Latin American countries. The USSR condemns attempts to “restore the Falklands colonial status by force” Venezuela talks of “British aggression” while China deplores military attacks against the “Malvinas Islands.”
QE2 is requisitioned as a troop carrier; “ At the same time as the QE2 we are requisitioning two roll-on-roll-off ferries, Baltic Ferry and Nordic Ferry and a container ship, Atlantic Causeway which will be used to transport the helicopters needed for the air support of the brigade.”
From Washington, Henderson reports a further conversation with Secretary Haig; “He had just been speaking on the telephone to the President of Peru. General Iglesias and Admiral Anaya had just arrived in Lima from Buenos Aires. President Belaunde believed that something real must be done to bring about a ceasefire. He believed that the Argentinians would accept the seven proposals … Haig was most eager to know whether we could go along with these proposals or something very similar to them. No less pressing, in his mind, was the need to do something immediately to stop the fighting. He thought is was desperately urgent for the Prime Minister to propose a ceasefire … I told him that after waiting three weeks while the Argentinians reinforced the Islands we were not in a mood to rush to an armistice just because the Argentinians were losing hands down…”
John Nott, asked during a press briefing at the MoD whether Britain is engaged in a war with Argentina, replies; “Certainly we have hostilities with the Argentines. It is not in legal terms, however, a war, although the ordinary layman would class it as a war. We have the right of self-defence under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.”
In New York, Pym hold a press conference; “.. I came here last night, as you know, had talks with the Secretary-General. We explored various ideas as to how the United Nations might be able to help in one way or another … our strategy all along has been to maintain pressure on the Argentines, diplomatic, economic and military, and we declared several days ago the Total Exclusion Zone which we are now going to protect. Yesterday there was a very real threat to that zone posed by a cruiser. There was also an attack on a helicopter from two ships which were immediately counter-attacked by British forces. I want to make it clear that the British are not undertaking these military engagements by choice. We are there to defend British soil…”
In Buenos Aires, the Junta issues a short statement; “.. as a result of the attack suffered at a point located at 55 degrees 24 minutes south and 61 degrees 32 minutes west by the cruiser General Belgrano, .., indications exist that it must be presumed to have sunk.”
Argentina recalls its surface fleet to shallow waters.
While the British Foreign Secretary is flying back to the UK, Secretary Haig transmits the details of the Peruvian peace proposal to London.
In Argentina, news reports falsely claim that HMS Exeter has been sunk and that 11 Harriers and one helicopter have been shot down. They also claim that Argentine forces have severely damaged 4 frigates, one aircraft carrier and one destroyer during raids on the British fleet; which had resulted in “serious casualties.”
Meanwhile, in London, the MoD report that only one aircraft had suffered any damage – described as “minimal” – and that one frigate had suffered some minor splinter damage. The Ministry deny that Exeter has been involved in any engagement. Contrary to Argentine claims of serious British casualties, only one seaman has been wounded and he is described as, “safe and comfortable.”
In Chile, the newspaper Tercera, comments on Argentine propaganda; “Question: What news from Buenos Aires? Answer: The British sent three planes to the islands and the Argentines shot down seven of them.”
Secretary Haig confides in Ambassador Henderson his concerns that further successful military action might cause the USA, and western opinion in general, to swing against the UK which may be seen as over-reacting and being too bellicose. He is assured that military developments will continue to be governed by existing rules of engagement, but that nothing unprecedented is currently contemplated.
May 4th – in London, Francis Pym briefs opposition leaders in the House of Commons; “… On the whole he felt that the events of the last few days had hardened the determination of the Argentine Government to stay on the Falkland Islands, rather than the reverse. None-the-less, they had been prepared to talk to the Peruvian Government over the weekend. It was also significant that they had given a clearer response to the ideas put to them than they had done before. The Government remained determined to try to find a diplomatic solution, but he had to say that he was not optimistic at present.”
In Israel, press reports confirm rumours of arms sales to Argentina previously denied by that Government.
HMSSheffield, a British Type 42 guided missile destroyer, is hit by an Exocet missile fired from a Super Etendard of the Argentine Navy. The missile fails to explode but causes an uncontrollable fire.
In Lima, the British Ambassador is summoned to the Peruvian Foreign Ministry; “The Foreign Minister .. communicated to me a formal note .. about the sinking of the Belgrano. .. In the ensuing conversation Dr. Arias said he wishedme to be in no doubt about the profound shock and consternation felt by the Peruvian Government on learning of the attack on the cruiser after President Belaunde had announced his peace initiative. Dr. Arias said that Costa Mendez had told him on the telephone that the 7 point plan was being considered by the military Junta in Buenos Aires when the news of the attack brought further consideration, and the meeting, to a conclusion …”
In Dublin, Ireland’s Government issue a statement saying that they; “ .. are appalled by the outbreak of what amounts to open war between Argentina and Great Britain in the South Atlantic and at reports that hundreds of lives have already been lost.” Ireland’s Representative at the UN, Noel Dorr, is instructed by his Government to call for an immediate meeting of the Security Council.
Secretary Haig tells Ambassador Henderson that; “.. the reaction from the Peruvians and Argetinians during the night was extremely discouraging. The latter are being more intransigent than ever, saying that this is inevitable in light of our military action. Haig does not think that this should preclude us from considering the seven-point plan and if possible going along with it. If the Argentinians turned it down they would put themselves once again in the wrong with world public opinion. Haig’s main emphasis this morning is on the real urgency, in his view … for London to take an initiative. .. he regards the Irish decision as “totally irresponsible” and as, “likely to prolong the war”… He was convinced that London must come up with something to try and head off the inevitable emergence of opposition.”
A White House spokesman comments on the Belgrano; “We regret the loss of life. It points out the seriousness of the situation and the absolute necessity to reach a peaceful settlement to this tragic conflict. .. We remain available to both parties. It is our hope that further fighting will be avoided. “ The spokesman denies Argentine claims that the Belgrano had been tracked by the USA on behalf of the British Task Force.
Parsons reports a conversation with Dorr; “I disembowelled him. When I had drawn breath, I summed up as follows: he could tell his Government following his conversation with me that … such a debate at this stage would kill the current confidential initiative taken by the Secretary-General. Dorr was obviously shaken. He kept on saying that it was too late. .. However he could ask for an immediate meeting without insisting that the meeting should take place during the next day or so, ie he could give us and the Argentines a chance to respond to the Secretary-General’s ideas. I said that he knew as well as I did that this idea would not fly … As soon as he asked for an immediate meeting the nasties would press things to a head as quickly as possible.”
At the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar asks Dorr not to press the matter until there is an answer to the peace ‘ideas’ put forward by himself on the 2nd. Dorr agrees. The Chinese President of the Security Council, Ling Qing, however schedules an ‘informal’ discussion to take place on the 5th.
Parsons telegrams Pym; “You should be aware that the fact that the Secretary-General put specific ideas to you and my Argentine colleague over the weekend is now widely known here. This is spite of what he said to the press on leaving the working dinner with you and is, I suspect, largely accountable to Rafee Ahmed. It also results from speculation arising out of his and Ling Qing’s consultations with members of the Council yesterday. .. At today’s briefing the spokesman said that “peace plan” was not the term the UN was using, but the Secretary-General had put forward “various ideas” to you and the Argentines .. and both had agreed to consider them.”
A British Sea Harrier is shot down over Goose Green. Argentine positions around Stanley are shelled.
Francis Pym sends a message to Alexander Haig; “ .. I am conscious, like you, of the value of simplicity in any new diplomatic initiative. If further conflict is to be avoided and our essential aims are to be met, negotiations must not drag on. At the same time we cannot accept a cease-fire on the basis of an agreement that is too imprecise. Otherwise, Argentina could accept the proposal, and thus escape military pressure, and then play for time in negotiations and prolong the occupation. … Subject to your very early comments I would like out of courtesy to give these ideas direct to the Peruvian President – (1) An immediate cease-fire, concurrent with: (2) Mutual withdrawal of forces: (a) Argentine and British forces to begin immediately to withdraw from an area of 200 nautical miles radius from the Falkland Islands and to refrain from introducing any forces into that area. (b) The UK will ensure safe passage for the Argentine garrison to the mainland. (c) All British and Argentine forces to be withdrawn within 7 days from the area of 200 nautical miles radius from the Falklands and to remain outside that area. (3) The immediate introduction of a Contact Group composed of Brazil, Peru, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States into the Falkland Islands on a temporary basis pending agreement on a definitive settlement, the Group’s tasks being: (a) to verify withdrawal; (b) to ensure that no actions are taken in the Islands, by the restored administration or otherwise, which would contravene this interim agreement. (4) Britain and Argentina acknowledge the existence of differing and conflicting views regarding the status of the Falkland Islands. (5) The two governments acknowledge that the views and interest of the Islanders must be determined, and be taken into account in the definitive settlement of the problem. (6) The two governments will make every possible effort in good faith to reach a definitive agreement prior to 30 April 1983. The countries represented in the contact group will give every assistance in this.”
At the Falklands, HMS Sheffield is abandoned.
Canada issues an official statement; “We deplore the Argentine attack on the Falkland Islands and request the removal of Argentine troops … at the moment the British are engaged in actions of self-defence.”
In London, the PM’s Private Secretary notes with regard to the British amendments; “(1) the list of points refers only to the Falkland islands, (2) military deployment outside the 200 nautical miles is unrestricted, (3) the Contact group’s role is limited, (4) there must be an effective ‘sounding out’ of Islanders’ opinions, (5) the Contact Group’s role in sovereignty negotiations is also downgraded, (6) there is no mention of economic sanctions.”
Sir Anthony Parsons telegrams the FCO; “I think there is a reasonable chance that I will be able to keep the Council in informal consultations for a few more days, unless there is another major military engagement. .. My insistence on .. not cutting across the Secretary-General’s efforts will of course be only a pretext. I do not believe that the Secretary-General’s ideas provide the basis for a negotiated settlement, and given the involvement of Rafee Ahmed, it is probably desirable to keep the United Nations out of the game, at this stage at any rate. My real purpose in delaying a formal Council meeting will be to gain time for the Haig/Belaunde proposals to mature and, of course, to put off as long as possible a possible UK veto of a seemingly mild Resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities. Such a veto would seriously undermine our position here and transfer the diplomatic advantage to the Argentines.”
May 5th – Ambassador Henderson telegrams Pym; “I have just had a three hour session with Haig … Haig does not consider that there is the slightest chance of the Peruvians being prepared to agree to our points or of being ready to transmit them to the Argentines. … he insists, on the basis of hours and hours of argument with the Argentinians, that there is no conceivable chance of getting an agreement if we insist on our language… I asked him what, in the circumstances, he thought could be done and this led to a prolonged analysis of texts, the outcome of which was a new set of points .. that he hoped met some of our requirements, without involving language that would be rejected out of hand… Haig implores you to have another look at this and see whether you cannot accept his latest proposals …”
Haig’s new proposals call for – (1) an immediate cease-fire, (2) mutual withdrawal and non-reintroduction of forces, according to a schedule to be established by the contact group, (3) the immediate introduction of a Contact Group composed of Brazil, Peru, Germany and the USA into the Falkland Islands on a temporary basis pending agreement on a definitive settlement. The Group assuming responsibility for (a) verification of the withdrawal, (b) ensuring that no actions are taken in the Islands, by the local administration, which would contravene this interim agreement, and (c) ensuring that all other provisions of the agreement are respected; (4) Britain and Argentina acknowledge the existence of differing and conflicting views regarding the status of the islands, (5) the two governments acknowledge that the aspirations and interests of the Islanders will be included in the definitive settlement of the status of the Islands, and (6) the Contact Group to have responsibility for ensuring that the two governments reach a definitive agreement prior to 30 April 1983.
President Reagan writes to Thatcher; “ Al Haig sent to Francis Pym new formulations which might provide a basis for a peaceful settlement if recent military developments have instilled a greater sense of realism in Buenos Aires. I am sure that the ideas sent to Al by your Foreign Secretary would not provide such a basis. Equally important, you will see that our suggestions are faithful to the basic principles we must protect. I urge you to agree to have these ideas proposed by us and Peru as soon as possible, recognizing that it will be difficult to get Peruvian agreement to join us in this initiative and more difficult still to gain Argentine acceptance. This, I am convinced, is now our best hope.”
Pym telegrams Parsons in New York; “.. I am giving priority to the Peruvian/American initiative. We should not say anything to Pérez de Cuéllar that might encourage Argentine to look to his ideas rather than Haig’s … I should also wish you to make it clear that I am not in any way turning down his own ideas. .. we shall need his help in making it clear to Security Council members that diplomatic activity is continuing, that his own ideas are still under study and that the Council should do nothing that might cut across these efforts…”
Australia’s Prime Minister telephones Margaret Thatcher with a message of support and to tell her that there was much admiration in Australia for her actions. He adds that the American Vice-President, George Bush, had just left the country and was in no doubt where the United States would stand in the “crunch.”
The War Cabinet meet to consider the latest version of the peace plan. After a meeting lasting four hours, PM Thatcher responds to President Reagan’s message explaining Britain’s need to amend the Peruvian/American peace plan; “… Above all, the present proposals do not provide unambiguously for a right to self-determination, although it is fundamental to democracy and was enjoyed by the Islanders up to the moment of invasion. We asked earlier that it should be included explicitly. Al Haig’s reply was that it could not, because the Argentines would not accept it and there would therefore be no hope of a settlement. This has given me and my colleagues very great difficulty. This is why I have tried to temper Al Haig’s latest proposal a little by suggesting that the interim administration must at least consult with the locally elected representatives. It is not much to ask … I too want a peaceful settlement and an end to the mounting loss of life in the South Atlantic. … That is why, with the changes Francis Pym has suggested to Al Haig, we are ready, with whatever misgivings, to go along with your latest proposal. Assuming that they are accepted by the Argentines, then during the negotiation period that will follow we shall have to fight fiercely for the rights of the Falklanders…”
At the UN, following informal consultation at which Parsons makes it clear that, “ .. there was no question of our suspending military operations, ..” the Security Council issue a statement expressing their, “deep concern at the deterioration of the situation,” but also their strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General.
In Buenos Aires, President Galtieri refuses to consider the Peruvian plan; saying he wants; “.. UN mediation.”
May 6th – another convoy, the Argonaut Group, sails from Ascension Island. Two British Sea Harriers crash in fog.
Unaware of Galtieri’s comments, Foreign Secretary Pym telegrams the British Embassy in Lima with instructions for the Ambassador to seek an urgent audience with President Belaunde; “You should tell the President that HMG are immensely grateful for his constructive intervention. In our view, in constitutes the best prospect of securing an early ceasefire and withdrawal, before more lives are tragically lost. .. You may say that HMG have noted the ideas put forward by the UN Secretary-General and indeed are replying to him. But the Peruvian proposals are not only compatible with the Secretary-General’s ideas but also provide essential clarity and precision in an imaginative and positive way.”
The Ambassador is also asked to pass on a small amendment that Britain wishes to see made to the duties of the Contact Group in (3)(b): “ .. (b) administering the Government of the Falkland Islands in the interim period in consultation with the elected representatives of the population of the Islands and ensuring that no actions are taken which would contravene this interim agreement.. “
Secretary Haig informs Francis Pym that the Peruvian proposals have been turned down by President Galtieri and that the Argentines were now moving to the UN and; “that was the end of that.”
Pym issues a statement to the press; “I am deeply disappointed that Argentine intransigence has once again frustrated a constructive initiative. Had they genuinely wanted peace, they would have accepted the latest proposals put to them, and we could have had a ceasefire in place by 5pm tomorrow.”
At the UN, the Secretary-General announces publicly that; “I have got a positive reaction from the Argentine Government. They have expressed to me that they are considering with great interest and a sense of urgency the ideas I have proposed to them. I hope that I may have a positive reaction from the United Kingdom.”
Sir Anthony Parsons telegrams the FCO; “ I recommend that I should be authorised to deliver our reply to the Secretary-General immediately. This will upstage the Argentinians whose reply consisted only of an acceptance of the Secretary-General’s demarche, a call for a ceasefire, and an expression willingness to discuss details. I should also get our reply in before Costa Mendez arrives here ….we must protect ourselves against the mounting pressure on us to accept calls for unqualified cease-fires, cessation of hostilities, maximum restraint, etc. These will undoubtedly be renewed at this afternoon’s Security Council consultations and I intend to stand as firm as I did yesterday. Obviously we cannot accept calls for a cease-fire unless they are clearly linked to unequivocal Argentinian agreement to withdraw ..”
Francis Pym asks Parsons to pass a message on to Pérez de Cuéllar; “I accept the general approach embodied in your ideas … Britain is willing to accept and immediately implement an interim agreement which would prepare the way for a definitive settlement. Such an interim agreement could provide for a cease-fire … But such a cease-fire cannot simply leave Argentina in illegal occupation of the Islands, in contravention of Resolution 502 and with the ability to continue to build up the occupation forces. Implementation of the cease-fire must therefore be unambiguously linked to the commencement of Argentine withdrawal.. Withdrawal would be completed within a fixed number of days. The British forces would stand off at a reasonable distance .. After mutual withdrawal, the two sides would lift the exclusions zones .. (and).. economic sanctions…the United Kingdom would be prepared to accept an interim administration .. to be undertaken by a Contact Group .. which would act in consultation with the elected representatives of the population of the Islands … Britain would be ready with Argentina to acknowledge the existence of different and conflicting views regarding the status of the Islands. We would be willing to engage in negotiations, without prejudice, for a definitive agreement and to accept a target date … for conclusion of an agreement which would accord with the wishes of the Islanders. We should be willing to accept that the Contact Group .. should have a role in relation to these negotiations….”
In Washington, Argentina’s Embassy deny press reports that they have agreed to withdraw from the Falklands.
Parsons is interviewed for the World at One television programme and asked to make a statement about the Secretary-General’s claim of a “positive reaction” from the Junta; “I think there is a certain amount of exaggeration, at least there was last night, and I think it has been corrected in the American media this morning. As I understand it, because I was there at the time – I didn’t actually read the Argentine letter but it was pretty short .. – I think what they have done is they have said to the Secretary-General, we need accept your demarche as it were, rather in the sense that, yes, we will do business with you. I don’t believe they’ve accepted all the propositions, all the range of ideas that he’s put forward, in fact I am perfectly sure they have not. In the American media this morning they are saying that the Argentine Ministry of Foreign affairs is making remarks like, “we have not of course agreed to withdraw” and “ the whole question of sovereignty is not negotiable” and “there’s a great deal more to study.” In fact, I think the letter did say that the details would be subject to discussion. So I think to put it in the sense that they have accepted it lock, stock and barrel is really very misleading… we are still … at a very preliminary stage.”
NATO’s “Eurogroup” (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Turkey) issue a communique; “Ministers condemned Argentina’s armed invasion of the Falkland Island and the dependencies as well as the failure to comply with Security Council Resolution 502. Ministers noted the importance of maintaining the principle that aggression or occupation of territory by force should not be allowed to succeed and urged the need to seek a negotiated solution acceptable to all parties..”
In Dublin, Taoiseach Haughey is reported as telling the press that the Irish Government’s support of EU sanctions against Argentina runs contrary to Ireland’s position as a neutral country.
Pérez de Cuéllar is reported as being, “pleased” with Francis Pym’s response; agrees that there is no need for a formal session of the Security Council and says that he will seek a response from Buenos Aires. At a meeting between Ambassador Henderson and Secretary Haig; Haig tells him that he is not convinced that the Argentines are “serious” about negotiating.
Argentina’s Defence Minister, Amadeo Frugoli, says that Argentina is not an aggressor country, but that the aggression is being perpetrated by Great Britain and that his country will respond to that aggression with every means – at the right place and in due time.
Galtieri offers, via the Mexican President, to hold a face-to-face meeting with Margaret Thatcher. He also says that in no circumstances is he willing to agree to any proposals put forward by, or otherwise associated with, the USA, although the Peruvian proposals had been broadly acceptable.
May 7th – PM Thatcher sends a message to EU heads of Government; “The collapse of the US/Peruvian initiative means that the focus of diplomatic activity moves to New York. In approaching this new phase of the crisis there is one point which I should like to put to you urgently, personally and with all the emphasis at my command. I want you to know that Britain will not acquiesce in the retention of the Falkland Islands by Argentina. The military means to terminate the military occupation are being assembled. They will be used, unless a diplomatic solution can be found. If events take this course there will be, I fear, the likelihood of destruction and casualties on a scale far exceeding what we have seen already. I am prepared for this and so is my government, and so is my country. You should be in no doubt about that…”
In the House of Commons, Francis Pym warns Argentina that; “…it should be in no doubt that Her Majesty’s Government would do whatever may be necessary to end the unlawful Argentine occupation of the Falkland Islands.”
Germany and Italy call for a ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of both British and Argentine troops. Turkey’s Foreign Minister states that his country supports Britain, as a NATO ally, in the dispute with Argentina.
In Uruguay, press reports state that Argentina is willing to make some exceptions on its ban on payments to London in order to avoid London based banks from declaring that Argentina is in default.
Sir Anthony Parsons speaks to Pérez de Cuéllar; “I said that I wanted to explain exactly why the previous negotiations had collapsed. Essentially this was because the Argentines had insisted that the transitional arrangements and the diplomatic negotiations for a final settlement must be pre-judged from the outset by acceptance of Argentine sovereignty. This had in turn become a precondition for withdrawal. An associated problem was that Haig and others had, from time to time been encouraged by the reasonableness of the civilian negotiators, only to find that they were repudiated by the military at the last moment…. Pérez de Cuéllar took notes and said that he fully understood the position. He was alive to the possibility that the Argentines might simply be using him in order to get either a cease-fire and endless negotiations without commitment to withdrawal, or a British veto of a call for a cease-fire combined with negotiations. This putting them in a better diplomatic position…”
In London, the MoD announce, with immediate effect, an extension of the ‘Total Exclusion Zone’; “Her Majesty’s Government warns that any Argentine warship or military aircraft which are found more than 12 nautical miles from the Argentine coast will be regarded as hostile and are liable to be dealt with accordingly.”
Argentina claims that the extension of the zone demonstrates; “ … the British insistence on a military solution and desire to obstruct the diplomatic option then under consideration with the Secretary-General.“
Peru and Venezuela assure Argentina that they will provide military aid if so requested under the Rio Treaty.
Argentina’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ernesto Ros, arrives in New York. Ros immediately calls on Pérez de Cuéllar to give him “amplifications” of the Argentine reply to the Secretary-General’s proposals. Argentina’s mission to the UN register a complaint about the 12 mile limit with the Security Council; “.. This unlawful measure constitutes a further act of aggression … which endangers the security of the Argentine Republic…”
Parsons informs the FCO; “The MOD statement .. has already caused a stir here. It has provoked a letter from Roca to the President of the Security Council, has worried Pérez de Cuéllar and is being presented dramatically in the New York media (the New York Post headline reads, “Mainland blockade: Britain expands war as invasion looms”). .. I have reassured Pérez de Cuéllar that the MOD statement should not be seen as a dramatic escalation of the conflict but rather as a clarification of earlier announcements…”
In Paris, President François Mitterrand, tells his doctor; “ I had a difference of opinion to settle with the Iron Lady. What an impossible woman, that Thatcher! With her four nuclear submarines on mission in the southern Atlantic, she threatens to launch the atomic weapon against Argentina — unless I supply her with the secret codes that render deaf and blind the missiles we have sold to the Argentinians. Margaret has given me very precise instructions on the telephone …. I have been forced to yield. She has them now, the codes. If our customers find out that the French wreck the weapons they sell, it’s not going to reflect well on our exports.“
Argentina complains to the ICRC that the UK; “.. in carrying out its acts of aggression against the civilian and military personnel in the region, has carried out continuous violations of the most elementary principle of humanitarian law. For example .. lack of information on the fate of the civilians captured in South Georgia; Lack of information on the situation of military personnel captured in South Georgia. In addition the United Kingdom has carried out acts repugnant to the consciences of civilised peoples such as – the incorporation in the Royal Navy Task Force of British military personnel captured by Argentine forces in the Falklands and South Georgia and then repatriated to the United Kingdom; sinking by submarine attack of the cruiser General Belgrano, sailing outside the zone defined by the UK as the maritime exclusion zone and not engaged in hostilities at the moment of sinking; attacks on similar vessels going to pick up people shipwrecked in another incident, the attack on ARA Sobral, one such vessel, was even more blameworthy since it was unarmed.”
In Geneva, the ICRC, respond by noting that the British Government had provided information about captured Argentine troops within 5 days which – “contrasted favourably with Argentine behaviour” – and that the General Belgrano, though outside the TEZ, was within the security zone of British ships in the area and was fully armed and engaged in operations.
At the UN, US Representative Jeane Kirkpatrick, contacts the Secretary-General to complain that his peace initiative is likely to “cut across” others (unspecified) that Secretary Haig is involved with.
May 8th – Peru issue a statement concerning Britain’s extension of the zone; “The Peruvian Government considers of the utmost gravity this extension of the area of conflict as far as the waters which, according to Argentine legislation, correspond to its sovereignty .. Faced with this new announcement of belligerent action on the part of the British forces, after the unjustified sinking of the cruiser “General Belgrano’, the Peruvian Government repeats its firmest protest and its request for the cessation of hostilities to make way for the peace-making measures foreseen in international law.”
Sir Anthony Parsons reports two meetings with the Secretary-General.
Meeting 1: “I saw the Secretary-General for an hour at 1530… Pérez de Cuéllar said that both sides agreed with the concept that his proposals were “provisional measures, without prejudice to the rights, claims or positions of the parties.” I confirmed that we agreed with this, but said that we must have 100% precision from the Argentines on the point. Pérez de Cuéllar said that Ros had indicated that the Argentines envisaged a written agreement: their signature would give us the precision we needed. I said that it would depend whose signature was on the agreement. All previous negotiations had foundered at the last minute on Argentine insistence that their claim on sovereignty should be accepted. … On the terminal date for the negotiations for a diplomatic solution, Argentina had proposed 31 December 1982 and you had suggested “perhaps one year”. Pérez de Cuéllar would value your reaction to the Argentine proposals. On transitional arrangements … Pérez de Cuéllar went on to say that Argentina favoured “an exclusive UN role” whereas you had proposed a contact group of States acceptable to both parties. I repeated that we needed to define what we meant.. what did an “exclusive UN role” mean? .. for us this would be a crucial question. .. On the format and venue of the substantive negotiations, Pérez de Cuéllar said that the Argentines wanted them to be conducted either by the Secretary-General or a representative appointed by him and that they should be held in New York. ..”
Meeting 2: “ I saw the Secretary-General and his team again at 2130 today. Pérez de Cuéllar said that he had asked Ros for an initial reaction to my request for clarification of what the Argentines meant by “an exclusive UN role” in the interim administration. Ros had replied that Argentina felt that since the interim period was likely to be fairly short it should be possible to adopt arrangements which, while not affecting individual rights, should necessarily come under the authority of the interim administrator, ie. the UN. … She (Agentina) felt strongly that, in order to avoid confusion and so as to ensure that the transitional period was truly transitional, it should be under a clear cut administration, with a presence from both the interested parties. Pérez de Cuéllar commented that this seemed to be a repetition of the position the Argentines had maintained all along on the transitional arrangements. I questioned this: … Their reference to “individual rights” presumably meant existing law on property, family matters, etc. What in effect they were proposing was direct UN administration without any local political structures. This was a very different concept from ours and I did not believe that it would be acceptable…. Pérez de Cuéllar said that Ros had repeated very clearly this afternoon that it was not the purpose of Argentina to prejudge the question of sovereignty, although de Soto added that for the Argentines this depended on agreement on appropriate terms of reference for the negotiations .. we shall have to watch this…”
Parson sums up the day’s meetings with the Secretary-General; “After today’s rounds, it is clear that the Argentines have organised their negotiating position very thoroughly. Perez de Cuellat told me in the strictest confidence that Ros has a prepared statement on every topic from which he reads verbatim as appropriate. I think that there are three possibilities. The first, and least likely, is that the Argentines have decided to negotiate in good faith and play it straight … Pérez de Cuéllar is as sceptical about this as I am. I hope we are wrong. The second possibility is that the Argentines have realised that if the search for a diplomatic solution fails because of their insistence on prejudging the sovereignty question, it will be diplomatic game set and match to us.. The third possibility is that they have decided that they cannot get what they want now, and that they should prepare the ground to get it the day after the interim period expires. This would mean that they would genuinely negotiate an agreement with us now .. But would refuse to accept anything in the agreement which envisaged prolongation of the interim period if agreement had not been reached. … My suggestion is that I make take the following line tomorrow (9 May). We are prepared to look more closely at the possibility of UN administration, but we could not accept the total exclusion of the Islanders, as proposed in the latest Argentine formulation: this is a great deal more rigid than the ideas they discussed with Haig where the problem was the disproportionate number of which they required on the two Councils. … I could take this line as an exploratory move without conceding our position on the Contact Group for the time being… I realise that I have not tackled the answer to the third and perhaps most sinister (third) possibility.. It is extremely hard to see a way out of this dilemma. ..”
Argentina announces that they have converted a survey vessel, the Bahia Paraiso, into a hospital ship.
May 9th – London relays instructions to Parsons; “We agree that Britain should demonstrate full willingness to cooperate in the Secretary-General’s negotiations. … You should convey the following British position to the Secretary-General: (a) .. We can agree that time ‘T’ should be set as soon after signature of an agreement as both parties can guarantee compliance by their forces to a cease-fire. For us, 24 hours after signature is acceptable .. (b) .. We can accept a period of 14 days for withdrawal of all Argentine military personnel from the Islands; half of them should be withdrawn within 7 days. (c) .. The arrangements for British withdrawal must be equal and parallel with those for Argentine withdrawal, thus involving no disadvantage to Britain. We can agree to withdraw all of or naval forces within 14 days, and half of them within 7 days, to outside a zone of 200 nautical miles from the Falkland Islands. (d) .. It is unreal to set an absolute terminal date for negotiations when everyone knows that the parties, with the best will in the world, may not be able to conclude an agreement within a specified time. For this reason we hope that the Secretary-General will return to the expression “target date” which appeared in his original proposal of 3 May. On that basis we could accept that the named date be 31 December 1982. In order however to take account of reality, without stating directly that negotiations might go on beyond the target date, the agreement would have to say that the interim arrangements will continue until an agreement on the future of the Islands is implemented … (e) … negotiations should take place under his (Secretary-General’s) auspices … perhaps Geneva or Ottawa…”
With regard to the interim administration Parson’s instructions are explicit; “ .. we must also insist most firmly that the new Argentine suggestions to the Secretary-General about the interim administration are unacceptable. … What Argentina is now suggesting is unprecedented and unreasonable. We can accept UN interim administration, but on the clear understanding that the Executive and Legislative Councils continue to function…” As for the Dependencies; “ … any agreement must be about the Falkland Islands, thus keeping the dependencies out of it.”
Interviewed on US television, Costa Mendez says that Argentina is not asking the UK to recognise Argentine sovereignty at the beginning of negotiations; provided that those negotiations conclude with confirmation of Argentina’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and Dependencies.
Sir Anthony Parsons sees the Secretary-General and sets out the British position; “ …this brought me on to the all important question of Argentine acceptance that the interim arrangements would be without prejudice to the question of sovereignty. I had been seriously disturbed by Costa Mendez’s television interview today. He seemed to me to have been saying that Argentina was not insisting that the UK should actually cede sovereignty before the negotiations started but that she insisted that those negotiations must conclude with confirmation of Argentine sovereignty and that they would therefore be concerned not with sovereignty itself but with how the interests of the Islanders might be protected under Argentine sovereignty. If my reading of Costa Mendez’s remarks was right, there had been a major change in the Argentine position as Pérez de Cuéllar had described it yesterday…. I next stated that I wished it to be quite clear that we were talking about the Falkland Islands alone, not about the Dependencies….”
At the Falklands, an Argentine spy trawler, Narwal, is attacked and boarded by British troops. HMS Coventry shoots down 2 Skyhawk aircraft and a Puma helicopter.
Parsons informs London; “Today’s military engagements have predictably fluttered the dovecotes here. Roca complained to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council … the Argentines are putting it about that at the Security Council’s informal consultations on 5 and 6 May tacit agreement was established that there should be no hostilities while the Secretary-General pursued his initiative. .. I telephoned Pérez de Cuéllar and Ling Qing to remind them that I had made it absolutely clear at the informal consultations that there was no question of our suspending military operations…”
Pérez de Cuéllar calls Sir Anthony Parsons back near midnight; “ .. he had told Ros that we did not consider that the Dependencies were included in the present exercise. Ros had objected strongly, saying that it would be impossible for the Argentine authorities to explain to their public opinion that Argentina would withdraw from the Falklands but that there would be no British military withdrawal from South Georgia. .. Ros had refused to accept our position… they wanted the lifting of the exclusion zones and of economic sanctions “to be effective as of time ‘T’”, otherwise the impression might be given that their withdrawal was taking place under pressure… On the interim administration, Pérez de Cuéllar said that the Argentines continued to object strongly to any role for the Islanders, even of an advisory character, because this would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations. I said that we could not accept this. … Pérez de Cuéllar said that he had had a very difficult discussion with Ros about the terms of reference of the negotiations and the linked question of Costa Mendez’s television interview. The kind of language the Argentines had in mind for the terms of reference was: “ the negotiations would have to solve the disputes between the parties, taking into account relevent General Assembly Resolutions.” I said that this would not do. Costa Mendez’s remarks today had been very close to Argentine statements which had caused the collapse of previous negotiations. We must have proper clarification. … In order to remove any shadow of doubt, we would also have to insist that all three members of the Junta signed the agreement…”
In a further telegram Parsons adds; “This ball is now firmly in the Argentine Court and Buenos Aires will have to give Ros instructions on the sovereignty question before we come under further pressure. If they come up with the wrong answer, ie an answer unsatisfactory to us, the stage will be set either for a break down of the negotiations or for a final dramatic effort by Pérez de Cuéllarto persude the Junta to think again.”
At the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar’s office issues a statement; “The Secretary-General’s discussions with the parties continued today and he met twice on seperate occassions with the representatives of Argentina and the United Kingdom. The Secretary-General has also informed the President of the Security Council of his talks. Substantial progress has been made on several points but clarifications are still needed on others. The talks will contine tomorrow.”
President Belaunde of Peru announces that he is sending his Prime Minister to Europe to argue for the lifting of sanctions against Argentina. Mexico’s President, Lopez Portillo, asks the British Ambassador when he can expect a reply to his suggestion that General Galtieri and PM Thatcher have a face to face meeting.
May 10th – Sir Anthony Parsons receives a message from the FCO; “Thank you for .. your sterling efforts with the Secretary-General. I endorse in particular your insistence on smoking the Argentines out on the question of sovereignty and the terms of reference for negotiations about the future of the Islands. If the Secretary-General’s efforts were to collapse because Argentina insisted on a transfer of sovereignty or would not agree to a sensible provision about what would happen in negotiations had not succeeded by a target date, Argentine would clearly have been unreasonable and we think we could defend our position satisfactorily in Parliament and internationally. .. The question of the dependencies and of the traditional administration may, as you say, be the ones where the crunch will come. .. Meanwhile, the following comments .. are provided as general guidance for your meetings with the Secretary-General today.
Dependencies: .. you should argue that the status quo in the Dependencies is as it was before the unlawful occupation and that our purpose in the present negotiations is to deal with the new situation created by the continued unlawful occupation by Argentina of the Falkland Islands themselves…
Sovereignty: You should continue to insist on two major points of substance; (a) that the text of the interim agreement must not prejudice the outcome of negotiations about the future and (b) that the Argentines must state clearly to the Secretary-General that they accept this and will desist from declaring the opposite in public.
Interim Administration: .. you should contest the unsupported and erroneous Argentine assertion that the involvement of the islanders in the interim administration would prejudge the outcome of negotiations… and that it would be contrary to the spirit of the Charter to dismantle them.
Target Date for Conclusion of Future Negotiations: We see no reason why an interim agreement should not say that: (a) negotiations will start immediately, to produce an agreement by the target date of 31 December 1982; (b) the interim agreements will remain in force until implementation of a definitive agreement about the future of the Islands…”
Telam reports; “ .. the British forces attacked and sunk the Argentine fishing boat Narwal which was in the area carrying out specific tasks that did not pose any threat to the British Fleet. The Narwal was sunk by a Sea Harrier which later did not hesitate to machine-gun the rafts that were hurled to the sea by the survivors, and even a raft that was filled with sick and wounded. This is an outrageous attack that violates the most elemental human feelings .. an inhuman deed, a hideous barbarian act that goes against all those values of the free world which the British Government has claimed to defend and uphold.”
Parsons notifies London; “ I asked my old Commonwealth colleagues, who have more time than I have recently to circulate amongst UN delegations, whether they felt that the overall attitude towards us was changing for the worse. They said it was not. There was still much sympathy for our position.”
In Parliament, Francis Pym is asked by the Foreign Affairs Committee about the Government’s long term objectives. Pym responds that while now British territory, the Government had never taken the view that the islands were under British sovereignty, “for ever and a day.” Other forms of governance were available to ensure their future, including independence, associate status, condominium, UN trusteeship and others.
In Communique No. 40, Argentina declares the whole of the South Atlantic a ‘war zone’.
Argentina submits its own amendments to the Secretary-General’s proposals; “(1) This agreement is concluded within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations and taking into account Security Council Resolution 502 (1982) and the relevant Resolutions of the General Assembly. (2) The agreement to which the parties commit themselves shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims or positions of the parties. (3) The geographical scope of this agreement shall comprise the three archipelagos considered by the United Nations. (4) The Government and the Administration shall be the exclusive responsibility of the United Nations. The observers of the parties may fly their respective flags. (5) There shall be freedom of transit and residence for citizens of the parties, who shall enjoy the right to acquire and dispose of real estate. (6) The withdrawal of forces shall be effected under the supervision of the United Nations. (7) The parties commit themselves to undertake in good faith negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General with a view to the peaceful settlement of the dispute and, with a sense of urgency, to complete these negotiations by 31 December 1982.”
At the UN, Pérez de Cuéllar meets Anthony Parsons; “I had nearly two hours with the Secretary-General and his team this evening. It was a very discouraging meeting. Pérez de Cuéllar said that … Ros had given him a paper… the paper had not originated in Buenos Aires but had been drafted in the course of the discussions here. It was therefore “negotiable.” Ros had told him that the Argentines saw the paper as a “package” and thought it better to discuss all these points at the same time. Pérez de Cuéllar had said that the paper would be unacceptable to us but said he would convey it to me. I said that I was puzzled and disappointed … it went back to general headlines (and, in its paragraph 5, added a major new point), without the detail on which I thought that Pérez de Cuéllar and I had been making progress… At the end of the meeting de Soto said that as the Dependencies had been included in our earlier negotiations with the Argentines they could not be excluded from the next round. Did he understand that I wanted to exclude them from the interim arrangements? Surely, withdrawal from South Georgia, where we had few troops, would be a “painless gesture.”
I denied this firmly .. as far as we were concerned, the agreement under discussion related to the Falkland Islands alone…. Withdrawal: A major new problem arose here. Ahmed said that the Argentines had said today that the proposals discussed with Haig had been based on the complete withdrawal of the British Task Force to its bases in the UK. I said … since then, the situation had changed enormously and there was no question of us accepting such an arrangement. It was totally irrelevant to the real situation…”
Cuba’s Fidel Castro, holding the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, calls upon the other members to take whatever steps they can to delay further British action against Argentina. US Ambassador Walters travels to Buenos Aires in order to; “.. probe the possibilities of an alternative government there; to emphasis to Galtieri the danger of Soviet penetration, and to indicate US economic help would be forthcoming in the event of a UK/Argentine agreement.”
Sir Anthony Parsons opines on the day to London; “Today’s experience brings me very close to believing that they are still not interested in reaching a negotiated settlement on terms which would be acceptable to us, and that it is rapidly becoming a question of who wrong-foots whom when the negotiations break down…”
Argentina’s Air Force issues a communique listing the names of 10 dead and 4 missing in action over the Falkland islands. 18 more are shown as wounded.
Panama’s President, in a telegram to the Secretary-General, condemns; “ … the United Kingdom’s escalating aggression against Argentina as a collective affront to Latin America and asserted that the United Kingdom was seeking to establish a blockade without Security Council authority and had violated a number of international conventions and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America..”
May 11th – the BBC is criticised for its “biased” reporting of the war. Anthony Grant MP complains to the Director-General of the BBC; “.. I do not expect the BBC to be biased in Britain’s favour but, in the interests of ‘balance’ if nothing else, need they be so obviously on the side of the enemy?”
France informs London that they had delivered 5 Exocet missiles to Argentina before the start of the conflict; part of an order for ten missiles. They also confirm that they have an order for 4 Exocets from Peru.
Margaret Thatcher writes to the other European Community Heads of Government asking them to support the renewal of the EC’s embargo on Argentina due for review on the 17th; “anything less than this could only encourage the Argentines to believe that our resolve is weakening, and that if they maintain their intransigence their aggression will eventually attain its objectives.”
She also responds to President Portillo’s suggestion of a face to face meeting with Galtieri by excusing herself on the basis of the Secretary-General’s ongoing mission; “ .. I do not believe that it would be right to cut across what is happening in New York.”
Francis Pym responds to Sir Anthony Parsons; “I agree that your talks yesterday with the Secretary-General were very discouraging… The Argentine paper .. having been drafted by Ros in New York, must incorporate negotiating fat. Moreover, it might be disowned by the Junta and, for this and other reasons, we should be careful not to get into the position of accepting it as the basis of further discussions. .. When you see the Secretary-general today, you may use the following .. (a) Dependencies: continue to insist on their exclusion. (b) Sovereignty: the formula is clear and easily explainable. You should continue to work for as much of it as possible. (c) .. the suggestion that we should retire 2000 nautical miles is completely unreal. (d) Withdrawal: ..the State which would be best placed geographically and in terms of equipment to verify naval withdrawal effectively would be the US. (e) Interim Administration: you should suggest that the UN administration should be described as functioning “in consultation with the Executive and Legislative Councils in the Islands”.. (f) Point 5 in the Argentine text about freedom of transit and residence is obviously designed by Argentina to flood the Islands and thus change the demographic facts during the interim period .. wholly unacceptable ..”
ARA Isla de Los Estados is sunk in Falkland Sound by HMS Alacrity.
From Washington, Ambassador Henderson informs London; “State Department have now advised us, with some embarrassment, that Landsat photography of the Falklands area has taken place during the period 7 – 12 May and that the Argentines have obtained the pictures.”
The Junta in Buenos Aires issue a statement; “In view of the United Kingdom’s persistence in its aggressive attitude, which is reflected inter alia in the restrictions it has attempted to impose on Argentine marine traffic in the South Atlantic, and in exercise of the right of self-defence established by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, it is decided that any vessel flying the United Kingdom flag which is navigating in the aforementioned zone towards the area of operations and/or which may be presumed to constitute a threat to national security shall be considered hostile, and action will be taken accordingly.”
At the UN, the Secretary-General meets again with Parsons; “Pérez de Cuéllar said that, on reflection, he had decided not to give me the “rough draft” until he had had a reply from Ros on the question of non-prejudgment… There was one point he wished to raise following his conversation with Ros this morning. . .. Pérez de Cuéllar wondered whether we could find other ways to meet our concern about a vacuum occurring if agreement had not been reached by 31 December. .. It was left that the Secretary-General’s team would think further on this…”
Later, Parsons is called back to the UN; “Pérez de Cuéllar said that at last he had good news for me. The Argentines had accepted that 31 December should be a target date and that the agreement should state that the outcome of the negotiations would not be prejudged. He the handed me the following text:
“The parties undertake to enter into negotiations in good faith under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the peaceful settlement of their dispute and to seek, with a sense of urgency, the completion of these negotiations by 31 December 1982, taking into account the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant Resolutions of the General Assembly. These negotiations shall be initiated without prejudice to the rights, claims or positions of the parties and without prejudgment of the outcome.”
Pérez de Cuéllar said that he had put this text (which is a variant on the language I gave him on 9 May) to Ros as his own proposal. Ros had told him this evening that, “after consultation with everybody” Costa Mendez had instructed him to accept it. I said that this was an extremely encouraging development .. assuming that Ros was acting with full authority.. There still remained a question about what would happen if no agreement had been reached by 31 December. Pérez de Cuéllar said that the Argentines had made a “tremendous concession.” They had also told him, on the interim administration, that they could accept that individual members of the Legislative Council, in their personal capacity, could be used by the administrator for advisory purposes, so long as the administration was also empowered to call on an equal number of other individuals from the Argentine population … they hoped serious consideration could be given to the need to have as few restrictions as possible on communications, the transit of persons and the acquisition of property. .. Finally on zones of withdrawal, the Argentines had expressed the hope that agreement could be worked out on withdrawal distances for the Task Force which would dispel any impression that Argentines were withdrawing under pressure .. I said that, welcome as tonight’s news was, there were still major difficulties ahead. One was the Argentines’ proposals on representation of the Islanders. I did not believe that you would be able to accept that 1820 Islanders should have the same representation as 30 Argentines….”
Sir Anthony Parsons seeks instructions from London; “I realise only too well that the pressure is now on us (This was inevitable if the Argentines gave way on the fundamental question) and that you face very difficult decisions.”
May 12th – the QE2 leaves Southampton with the 5th Infantry Brigade with Scots Guards, Welsh Guards and Gurkhas on board.
At the Falklands, in a ‘friendly-fire’ incident, Argentine gunners near Darwin shoot down one of their own aircraft. 3 Argentine Skyhawk aircraft are destroyed by HMS Glasgow and HMS Brilliant in a 42-22 deployment. HMS Glasgow is hit by a 1,000lb bomb which fails to explode, but causes extensive damage.
Instructions from the Foreign Secretary to Sir Anthony Parsons arrive in New York; “Ministers remain of the view the inclusion of South Georgia in the interim arrangements presents us with very serious difficulties. Quite apart from our title and the fact that we are in possession, there are practical considerations. .. we may need to use South Georgia during the period of withdrawal. Its anchorages will enable us to conduct this operation much more satisfactorily than if they were not available. .. Much the best course is to concentrate on the Falklands only… For your own information, if we were ever to come to contemplate withdrawal from South Georgia in the interim, we should have to insist upon total Argentine withdrawal from Southern Thule.”
In addition, Parsons is to maintain that the British Government have reservations about references to General AssemblyResolutions without any mention of ‘self-determination’; and further concern regarding the target date of 31 December. The Government is also worried about the arrangements for verifying withdrawal of the two forces, and the role of the UN administrator. Argentine demands about rights of residence and the acquisition of property are to be rejected although a vague reference to the Communications Agreement of 1971 is acceptable.
An editorial in The New York Post states; “Secretary of State Haig’s Ambassador at large, General Vernon Walters, former Deputy head of the CIA, says of the British resort to arms to deal with Argentina’s seizure of the Falkland Islands: “What you really have here is a problem of machismo of men”. Is that really why the UN Security Council voted to condemn Argentina’s aggression and demand withdrawal of its forces? Is that why Secretary Haig travelled thousands of miles to try to negotiate a solution? Is that why the OAS refuses to support Argentina’s Generals? Is that why Western Europe bans all trade with Argentina? Latins may be romantic and grandiloquent but, if Walters has got it right, Mrs. Thatcher must be quite a woman.”
Alexander Haig is reported to be “upset” by the remarks.
Parsons goes to see Pérez de Cuéllar; It was a grim meeting. … The Secretary-General and his staff were clearly stunned .. The Argentines were coming to see him … I had given him nothing to pass on to them in return for what they saw as yesterday’s major concessions. They would be bitter and disappointed. He could not exclude the possibility that they would break off the talks immediately. .. I urged him to look at the problem from the London end. It was not we who had committed the aggression, we had nevertheless already made a number of major concessions .. Any arrangement which appeared to reward Argentine aggression would simply not be accepted in Britain… Bringing the meeting to a close, Pérez de Cuéllar said that he felt obliged to ask me formally to tell you that in his view his whole effort might now collapse if we could not moderate our position.”
Following the meeting Parsons telegrams Pym in London; “ You and your colleagues are now faced with an immediate strategic decision. If tomorrow I stick to the positions I set out to Pérez de Cuéllar today and he puts them to the Argentines, as he will feel bound to do, I agree with his assessment that the negotiations will terminate there and then. We can only keep the talks going if we are prepared to make fairly substantial concessions on the nature of the interim administration and on our military withdrawal from South Georgia… I explained .. in detail that the basic British view was as follows. The only just outcome was that the aggressor should withdraw, the status quo ante be restored and the negotiations which had so rudely been broken off resumed. He must not think we were being inflexible. We had shown ourselves ready to entertain a string of concessions – UN Administration, acceptance that the outcome did not have to be British Sovereignty with its concomitant of the paramountcy of the Islanders’ wishes, a target date for a final settlement only 7 months away, etc.
However, the plain if regrettable fact is that everyone here sees the situation quite differently. The majority of the Membership sympathise with our reaction to Argentine use of force, but they believe (this includes a number of western delegations) that the Falklands should belong to Argentina provided that the interests of the Islanders are safeguarded. The dominant view here is that the Argentine position is becoming more moderate and that we should respond… This is how it is. Hence, if we do not moderate our position and the negotiations break down tomorrow … we will be regarded as the culprits.”
Pérez de Cuéllar asks Secretary Haig to persuade London to make a “comparable concession” to that made by Argentina. However, Haig tells Ambassador Henderson that he; “.. fully understands the absurdity of this line of argument when Argentina up to now has made no movement whatsoever, but on the contrary has stepped up its demands.” Haig also tells Henderson that Britain should not give way on South Georgia. At the end of the conversation, Haig adds; “ .. he wanted me to convey one important message. .. This was that there was widespread support for us over resistance to aggression. Most Latin American countries understood how impossible the Argentinians were. Their machismo made them intolerable to deal with, but Britain would put itself in the wrong, and as a result inflame the whole American hemisphere, if it attacked the Argentine mainland…”
From Buenos Aires, Walters contacts Haig; “ … Lami Dozo’s view was that the negotiations at the UN were at a dead end. The Argentines could not give way on sovereignty because of the pressure of the Peronistas…”
Parsons calls London again later in the evening; “In the event Pérez de Cuéllar decided not to call me back for a further meeting .. He told me on the telephone that the following points had emerged from his fairly brief meeting with Ros: (1) a private appeal to us to be transmitted through me personally for military restraint while serious negotiations were continuing, (2) Pérez de Cuéllar told Ros that we were generally satisfied .. with the Argentine statement on non-prejudgement. However we already had fresh misgivings because of Costa Mendez’s statement today. Pérez de Cuéllar suggested a moratorium on public statements .. Ros immediately started to complain about statements coming out of London, (3) Ros had nothing further to offer on the nature of the interim Administration, (4) Ros re-opened the question of freedom for Argentines to acquire property in the Falklands and the point about their being able to buy shares in the Falklands Islands Company.”
Vietnam writes to the Secretary-General demanding that the UK implement the UN Resolutions on decolonization and stop its military acts against Argentina. It also condemns the “complicity” of the USA.
May 13th – on Ascension Island, all-but-one of the 188 Argentine prisoners captured on South Georgia are handed over to the ICRC before being flown to Montevideo. Lieutenant-Colonel Astiz remains detained on Ascension while a decision is made regarding French and Swedish requests to interview him in connection with murder enquiries concerning their nationals.
President Reagan telephones Margaret Thatcher; “President Reagan said that he understood that the negotiations .. in New York had produced some movement. He believed that the Argentines were willing to enter into negotiations without pre-conditions … The Prime Minister said that she regretted that this was not the case. At least two big questions remained. As regards the interim arrangements, Argentina wanted greater Argentine participation than we could accept and there were substantial difficulties about ownership of property and freedom of movement. Secondly, there was the problem of South Georgia .. President Reagan said that the United States would continue to do what it could to help the negotiations … ”
Ignoring the Secretary-General’s request regarding public statements, Argentina’s General Iglesias tells the Washington Post that his Government requires that any agreement should be a certain and guaranteed means of obtaining complete Argentine sovereignty, “within a reasonable period.”
Parsons and de Cuéllarmeet again at the UN; “I judged that to make the points about South Georgia and the interim Administration .. would almost certainly precipitate an immediate breakdown. I therefore took the line that, because of the emergency debate in the House of Commons, you had not yet had time to send me substantive instructions on these two points .. (Pérez de Cuéllar said that he always preferred delays to bad news.)… I did, however, have an answer of substance on the risk of a vacuum after 31 December 1982 if no agreement had been reached… It was unrealistic to think that sufficient confidence could be generated between us and the Argentines for it to be safely left in the air. It seemed to me that it was an equally important point to the UN, the UK and Argentina. … Pérez de Cuéllar said that both sides were pressing him for ideas on it. The Argentines were prepared to let him ask for an extra month or two if no agreement was in sight at the end of the year. But they wanted to guard against the risk that the UN interim administration would last for ever.
I said that we could trust the Secretary-General but not the Security Council. Might it be possible to devise some formula under which, if the Secretary-General decided that further time was needed … the interim administration would remain in being unless the Security Council decided otherwise? Ahmed and de Soto said that the Argentines also felt uncomfortable about involving the Security Council (because of our veto) and that the Secretariat were working on language which would contain no reference to the Security Council .. The trouble was that this formula would not meet Argentine concerns, unless it specified that only one extension would be possible. I indicated that the latter condition would not be acceptable to us. I was then subjected to a burst of rhetoric from Ahmed to the effect that we could not expect the Argentines to make another concession. I dealt very firmly with this … Pérez de Cuéllar was obviously afraid that Ros would break off because of my failure to make any move on either the Dependencies or on the interim Administration. He said that he now felt that by Sunday (16 May) at the latest he would have to present some UN ideas to both of us. He recognised that one or both of us might reject his ideas, but he felt obliged to try.”
Ling Qing, President of the Security Council, calls for an informal discussion on the 14th. Pérez de Cuéllar warns Parsons that he considers Ling Qing, “biased and dangerous.”
Parsons telegrams London: “My theatrical performance this morning has helped us get through another day. The price of course was expectations that we will come up with something on the difficult subjects tomorrow. I am working on the assumption that we are on two tracks – genuine search for agreement and, if no agreement is possible, for the negotiations to collapse with us in the least dis advantageous position. I am also conscious of the need to buy as much time as we can.”
Pym responds; “I realise that the negotiations have reached a very difficult position. All here are agreed that our immediate purpose should be to keep the negotiations going, at least for some time yet. … I see the scope for further discussion of certain of the problems with the Secretary-General before Ministers attempt to take a decision about a package covering all the outstanding questions. In particular, please pursue the following matters: (a) you should make full play with the continued statements by Costa Mendez that Argentina insists on having sovereignty… (b) you should say that the risk of a vacuum after an interim period is for us, one of the most important matters, and that more clarity must be achieved as soon as possible… I realise that you also need to say something about South Georgia and about interim administration. … on South Georgia you may say that we should be willing to refer title over South Georgia to the ICJ, does the Secretary-General think that would help?..”
May 14th – British special forces attack an Argentine base on Pebble Island destroying a large ammunition dump together with 11 Pucara aircraft, and. Elsewhere, three Argentine Skyhawk aircraft are shot down by Sea Harriers. Stanley airfield is bombed.
In London, intelligence reports that the Bahia Paraiso, newly converted into a hospital ship, is loading large quantities of food and weapons at the port of Ushuaia. A decision is taken to request that the ICRC inspect the vessel, but that if it has already left and is found within the TEZ, it should be stopped and searched. Buenos Aires is informed via the Swiss Embassy.
At the UN, Belgium’s Ambassador informs Parsons that the Argentines have been visiting all the EU Ambassadors to say that; “ (a) Argentina was negotiating in good faith, (b) sanctions had not helped the British: their effect had simply been to consolidate Latin American and Third World support for Argentina; their renewal would extend the confrontation and heighten north/south conflict, (c) the sovereignty question had been resolved as a result of an Argentine concession, (d) there remained three main issues, (e) the most important of these was the nature of the interim administration, where Argentina wanted purely UN administration, but the British were insisting on retention of “the colonial structures,” (f) the other two were withdrawal, where the Argentines had accepted the Secretary-General’s concept of simultaneous or parallel withdrawal, but the British had not: and the substantive negotiations where the British were refusing to accept a deadline ..”
Information is received from Caracas to the effect that the Venezuelan Government is also sending out a mission at President Galtieri’s request. Their itinerary is Spain, the Vatican, West Germany, Belgium, Holland and France and their purpose is to show “solidarity” with Argentina and to seek the lifting of sanctions.
General Walters, on his return from Buenos Aires, telephones Ambassador Henderson; “.. Walters went on to outline his visit to Buenos Aires, the main purpose of which he claimed was to limit the damage to American relations with Latin America which had been brought about by US support for the UK. He had found the Argentine Junta the most difficult people he had had to deal with since his encounters many years ago with MOSSAD. .. Galtieri told Walters that recent US statements, particularly by Weinberger, had raised strong anti-American feelings in Buenos Aires .. he felt that the Americans could have adopted a less partial course…. if Britain assaulted the Falkland Islands, Argentina would seek help from those friends who had offered it, except the Soviets. The Argentinians had already lost nearly 400 men; they were prepared to lose 40,000 if necessary. .. At a second meeting with Galtieri, Walters gained the impression that the Junta (which he thought seemed completely united) were flexible on predetermination of sovereignty (although they still insisted on a firm cut-off date) and even on the continuation of some form of local administration during the interim period. However Galtieri was unyielding on access to the Islands for Argentine nationals. .. No mention was made of the Dependencies. .. Galtieri had also proposed that the dispute should be resolved by means of a summit meeting under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General and comprising himself, Mrs. Thatcher and President Reagan.”
Secretary Haig sends a message to Henderson with his “latest thoughts” including; “ .. (1) We should do everything possible to ensure that it was no we who were responsible, or held responsible, for any breakdown in the Secretary-General’s efforts .. (2) withdrawal from the Islands should be based on parity of time in terms of the ability of both sides to reinsert their forces… (3) the focus of the discussions should be on the Falkland Islands and not the Dependencies. This had also been the view of President Figueiredo of Brazil. .. “
At an informal meeting of the Security Council, the Secretary-General outlines the progress he has made with his peace proposals; “ .. A broad framework of agreement was taking shape, covering ceasefire, mutual withdrawal, an interim Administration and negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General. There would be an important role for the UN, subject to the approval of the Security Council …”
Parsons reports; “Thanks to Pérez de Cuéllar’s efforts, we have thus cleared another hurdle in the Council, but there was no mistaking the members’ nervousness about hostilities if and when the Secretary-General’s efforts should fail. The Council is all set to support a simple ceasefire plus a negotiations Resolution in that event.”
Ambassador Henderson and Sir Anthony Parsons return to London for instructions.
May 15th – more bombs are dropped on Stanley airfield, and on two other targets nearby. An Argentine cargo vessel, the Río Carcarañá is strafed by two Sea Harriers and set on fire.
The Political Committee of the European Community refer the decision to renew the EC’s sanctions against Argentina to the Council of Ministers.
May 16th – in a meeting held at Chequers, a decision is taken regarding the terms of an agreement between the UK and Argentina – “the absolute minimum acceptable.”
This proposes – (1) no prejudice to the rights, claims or positions of either party in the ultimate peaceful settlement of their dispute, (2) no acts or activities taking place while the interim agreement is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty, or create any rights of sovereignty, (3) 24 hours after signature (time ‘T’) each party undertakes to cease and thereafter refrain from all hostile actions, (4) both countries undertake – (a) to commence withdrawal at time ‘T’, (b) to withdraw half of her force 150 nautical miles within 7 days, (c) to complete withdrawal within 14 days, (5) exclusion zones to be lifted from time ‘T’, (6) following completion of the withdrawal each party undertakes to refrain from reintroducing any armed forces within 150 nautical from the Islands, (7) economic measures to be lifted at time ‘T’, (8) both parties to jointly sponsor a Security Council Resolution to recognise the agreement and the Secretary-General’s role, (9) the Secretary-General to appoint an Administrator acceptable to both parties (10) the Administrator to ensure the continuing administration of the Islands in consultation with the representative institutions of the Islands in accordance with Article 73 of the UN Charter, with the exception that one representative from the Argentine population be appointed to each of the two institutions, (11) the UN Administrator to verify withdrawal, (12) each party to have no more than 3 observers on the Islands, (12) negotiations in good faith under the auspices of the Secretary-General, for the peaceful settlement of their dispute and to seek, with a sense of urgency, the completion of negotiations by 31 December 1982 and without prejudgement (13) this agreement shall remain in force until a definitive agreement about the future of the Islands has been reached and implemented by the parties.
The preamble to the agreement only makes mention of the Falkland Islands, and a separate message for the Secretary-General clearly states that the Dependencies are not included. Sir Anthony Parsons instructions are that there can be no amendments; “You should tell the Secretary-General that although the right course would have been for the Argentines to implement SC Resolution 502, we have been negotiating in good faith for more than five weeks through various intermediaries. We are very grateful for the Secretary-General’s latest efforts but we cannot allow matters to drag on much longer. Midday New York time on Wednesday 19 May is therefore an absolute deadline for the Argentines’ reply. If not received by then we shall have to assume rejection…”
Germany’s Chancellor Schmidt, and French President Mitterand, meet in Hamburg; “There was clear agreement on the need for solidarity with Britain on the basis of SCR 502. Sanctions involved sacrifices for both France and Germany, but it was clear that they would be renewed..”
US Secretary Haig and Foreign Secretary Pym meet in Luxembourg; “Haig seemed more confident than in earlier meetings of our ability to do the job militarily, and assumed that we would not be able to wait much longer. He argued strongly against action against the mainland, but seemed otherwise undisturbed about the military prospects ..”
Haig also informs Pym that the Argentines in New York are “bragging” that their concession on the pre-judging of sovereignty has thrown the British argument into disarray.
In the American press, Costa Mendez is quoted as saying; “that Sir A Parson’s return to London proves that responsibility for the delay or the prolongation of the negotiations is certainly not Argentina’s, but Britain’s.”
May 17th – Margaret Thatcher raises British concerns with France regarding Peru’s order for 4 Exocet missiles. The French President assures her that completion of the order will be delayed; “ .. as long as is necessary.”
Trade sanctions are renewed by the EC until the 24th . Italy and Ireland make a joint statement saying that they will not apply the embargo.
Australia’s Prime Minister tells President Reagan that; “Support for the British position and for what Mrs. Thatcher is trying to achieve is of critical importance to the western alliance.”
Parsons arrives back in New York and delivers two documents to Secretary-General de Cuéllar. The first, setting out the British position in full, is the draft of the proposed Interim Agreement.
He emphasises to the Secretary-General that this is as far as Britain is prepared to go; “ .. these were major concessions. We could make no more. All that Argentina had offered .. was a matching undertaking (if it could be believed) to put sovereignty on one side, and conditional agreement to withdraw, which could hardly be regarded as a concession when Argentina was the aggressor; withdrawal, for an aggressor, was an obligation not a concession. .. This represented the bottom line for HM Government. We could not accept any amendments to it. .. Negotiations could not be allowed to drag on .. we required a reply from the Argentines by 12 noon on 19 May. Any appeals for further time, or any proposals for substantive amendment, would be interpreted as a rejection of our proposals. …”
Pérez de Cuéllar asks to speak to Parsons privately. When they are alone, Sir Anthony hands over the second document: a letter making it clear that the Falkland Island Dependencies are not a part of the Interim Agreement.
After the meeting, Parson reports to London; “.. Pérez de Cuéllar then went on to say that, between ourselves, he thought that our paper was perfectly reasonable and he appreciated the effort we had made… He also had some indications that the Argentines were beginning to get a bit desperate, and might genuinely want to get an agreement with us. His feeling was that they thought that we could recapture the Islands without much difficulty and that the only way to save themselves from this ultimate humiliation would be to get an agreement before it happened…”
Pérez de Cuéllar passes the proposal to Ros before issuing a statement; “As you know, Sir Anthony Parsons returned from London this morning and immediately informed me of the British position as defined during the intense consultations he had with his Government over the weekend. This afternoon I conveyed to Vice Minister Ros the information I had received. You will understand that until I hear from the parties I have nothing to add except that I am more than ever convinced that time is not on the side of peace. Therefore efforts to find a peaceful solution will be pursued with vigour. The next few days will be decisive.”
At a “super-restricted” session of the North Atlantic Council (NATO) ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, all speakers including the Foreign Ministers of the USA, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy and Norway express their solidarity with the UK.
A Sea-king helicopter lands near to Punta Arenas in Chile and is destroyed by its British crew.
[Note: A largely unexplained incident. The helicopters crew gave themselves up to Chilean authorities and were eventually returned to the UK. All the crew members received gallantry medals, although for what has not been made clear. The suspicion is that they were dropping off special forces in Argentina in what was a one-way mission, as their vessel was required elsewhere and could not wait for them to return. Some sources suggests that B squad SAS were inserted to assess an attack on Argentine bases. Deemed unfeasible; the special forces were extracted by submarine. There was also political pressure to avoid any attack on the mainland that could induce other South American States to assist Argentina under the terms of the Rio Treaty. This may have resulted in a last minute cancellation.]
May 18th – PM Thatcher speaks to Parliament; “We have done everything that we can to try to secure a peaceful settlement. The Argentines have shown their intransigence by flouting every part of the United Nations mandatory resolution. Not only did they flout the resolution but they have gone in the contrary direction by piling extra men and equipment to the islands.”
In New York, Deputy Minister Ros submits a document to the Secretary-General’s office.
Pérez de Cuéllar immediately summons Parsons; “He said that Ros had given him a document containing Argentine “ideas and views” to bridge the differences between us. De Soto then described these. They were a mixture of requests for clarification, re-statement of known Argentine positions and introduction of new points. I undertook to report these to you but made it clear that they could only be interpreted as a rejection of our draft agreement. …. (a) The Argentines said that they were not clear what we meant by “in consultation with”.. Did it mean that the opinion of the Councils would be binding on the Administrator or not? .. (b) they did not like the references to Article 73 of the Charter, (c) they were prepared to change the date to 30 June 1983, but required a provision that if no agreement had been reached by then the General Assembly would intervene .. They needed a mechanism to ensure that the negotiations did not continue for ever, (d) they wanted the Dependencies included, (e) they wanted a reference to the relevant GA Resolutions in the preamble if possible, and in any case in the terms of reference, (f) they suggested that in the negotiations the Secretary-General should “resort to” a four State Contact Group, two States being nominated by each party, with each party having the right to veto one of the two States proposed by the other, (g) on withdrawal, they proposed a very general clause which would provide for complete withdrawal and return to normal areas of operations within 30 days, (h) there was also a point about communications and access to the Islands for the nationals of both parties during the interim period.
I said that I would transmit all this to you and let Pérez de Cuéllar have a formal reaction … but I could say right away that you would consider this Argentine response as completely unsatisfactory. It did not constitute a clear reply … You would only be able to draw the conclusion that the Argentines were playing for time. .. I had made clear yesterday that such a response would be interpreted by HMG as rejection..”
May 19th – the units of the British Task Force join up, including HMS Fearless, Intrepid, Canberra and Norland – with over 4,000 troops.
Sir Anthony Parsons notes; “ The Secretariat gave us their translation of last night’s Argentine paper. This is even worse that Pérez de Cuéllar and de Soto led me to believe … in particular, (a) the previously agreed language on pre-judgement has been omitted, (b) there is no reference to Councils as such, but only to “persons who are members of the population of British origin” who are to be appointed as advisors in equal numbers with Argentine residents in the Islands, (c) the provisions on freedom of movement are much worse… in short, the Argentines have reverted to the negotiating position they occupied at the very beginning of Pérez de Cuéllar’s initiative.”
Argentina proposes: (1) withdrawal from the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, (2) withdrawal to “normal bases of operation” within 30 days, (3) economic measures to be lifted from the date the agreement is signed, (4) supervision of withdrawal to be carried out by the UN, (5) the interim administration – (a) to be the respnsibility of the UN, (b) the administration to perform all functions (executive, legislative, judicial and security), (c) local judicial functions may be exercised in accordance with the legislation in effect on 1 April 1982, (d) the administration to appoint advisers, persons who are members of the population of British origin and Argentine residents in equal numbers, (d) the flags of the parties shall fly together with that of the UN, (e) during the interim administration communications to be kept open, including freedom of movement and equality of access with respect to residence, work and property, (f) freedom of access for Argentina’s airline (LADE) and Argentine television, (g) the way of life of the locals to be respected. (6) negotaitions to be completed by 31 December 1982 with a single option to extend to 30 June 1983 – and if the period expires without agreement, the General Assembly of the UN to determine the final agreement.
In a telephone conversation, Costa Mendez and Ros both assure Pérez de Cuéllar that their paper of the previous evening is not their final word, and that they remain “flexible.” On being informed of the position by the Secretary-General, the President of the Security Council, Ling Qing, calls an informal meeting for later in the day.
“All this activity prompted me to accelerate my programme for giving Pérez de Cuéllar our formal response to last night’s Argentine paper. Pérez de Cuéllar proposed a working lunch.. At my private meeting with Pérez de Cuéllar before the lunch I asked him to formally convey to Ros that HM Government found the Argentine response totally unacceptable. The Argentine position had not changed in substance since the beginning of the negotiations. It was clear that there was no hope of reaching an agreement ..We therefore had to draw a line… I told Pérez de Cuéllar that we recognised that this would enable Ros to wrong-foot us by blaming us for the breakdown of negotiations but this was something that we would have to accept… he noted what what I said about drawing a line but he had to tell me that he intended to keep his options open..”
Parsons notes; “Although Pérez de Cuéllar refuses to admit defeat and the (Security) Council is supporting him in this, I do not feel uncomfortable about our own position. First, …, Pérez de Cuéllar will not consider that we have acted in bad faith in announcing to the House of Commons tomorrow that we regard the present round as having ended with the Argentine rejection of our proposals. Secondly, he will not accuse me of bad faith if HM forces land on the Falklands in the next few days. I made the deadline clear to him … We are going to need all the support we can get from our friends and allies in the days to come – I even took the exceptional step of brain-washing Mrs. Kirkpatrick this evening on the flexibility we had shown in the negotiations, as opposed to Argentine obduracy. Some of my Community partners are so untrustworthy that I will not brief them until Friday ..”
Haig tells Henderson that Jeanne Kirkpatrick had “urged” the Argentinians to accept the British plan.
Parsons reports on the consultations within the Security Council; “This evening’s informal consultations .. went well. There was no disposition to move into a formal meeting nor any proposals for Presidential statements which would have caused us difficulty. The Secretary-General and I reported briefly on the stage reached. … In order to avoid provoking a wider debate, with the possible risk of a formal session tonight, I thought it better not to say explicitly that as far as we were concerned, the present round of negotiations had ended … I gave no-one any grounds to claim that we had accepted the various calls for restraint and moderation.”
Troops on the Canberra are transferred to HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid by helicopter. A Sea-king helicopter crashes as it attempts to land on HMS Intrepid. 22 men are lost, 18 of them special forces.
May 20th – just after midnight, Sir Anthony Parsons sends an urgent telegram to London; “.. the Secretary-General has dropped an embarrassing bombshell .. he has now launched his own paper.. When we remonstrated with his staff that this move was inconsistent with the British position as I had described it as recently as lunchtime today.. they said he had been encouraged to make it by the Prime Minister’s concluding remarks .. It looks therefore as though Pérez de Cuéllar, in his desperate desire not to sign off, has chosen to ignore the clarification of the Prime Minister’s remarks which I gave him this evening. The paper is very cleverly drafted and is undoubtedly more favourable to us than to Argentina, but I fully realise that it has come too late …”
Pérez de Cuéllar’s aide memoire outlines four areas where he says that agreement must be reached – (a) certain aspects of the interim-Administration, (b) provision for the extension of the time for completion of negotiations and related duration of the interim-Administration, (c) certain aspects of mutual withdrawal of forces, and (d) the geographic area to be covered by the terms of the Interim Agreement. The proposal also includes: (1) inclusion of the Dependencies within the Interim Agreement, (2) references to UN General Assembly Resolutions, (3) the flags of the parties and the UN to fly over the Islands, (4) inconclusive arrangements to extend the UN administration if the target date is not met, (5) consideration of a relaxation of restrictions on residence and the acquisition of property.
Margaret Thatcher up-dates Parliament; “.. On Monday of this week our ambassador to the United Nations handed to the Secretary-General our proposals for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. These proposals represented the limit to which the Government believe it was right to go. We made it clear to Senor Pérez de Cuéllar that we expected the Argentine Government to give us a very rapid response to them. By yesterday morning we had had a first indication of the Argentine reaction. It was not encouraging. By the evening we received their full response in writing. It was in effect a total rejection of the British proposals.
We have reached this very serious situation because the Argentines clearly decided at the outset of the negotiations that they would cling to the spoils of invasion and occupation by thwarting at every turn all the attempts that have been made to solve the conflict by peaceful means. Ever since 2 April they have responded to the efforts to find a negotiated solution with obduracy and delay, deception and bad faith…..
Since 6 May, when it became clear that the United States-Peruvian proposals were not acceptable to Argentina, the United Nations Secretary-General, Senor Pérez de Cuéllar, has been conducting negotiations with Britain and Argentina. Following several rounds of discussions, the United Kingdom representative at the United Nations was summoned to London for consultation last Sunday. On Monday Sir Anthony Parsons returned to New York and presented to the Secretary-General a draft interim agreement between Britain and Argentina which set out the British position in full. He made it clear that the text represented the furthest that Britain could go in the negotiations. Yesterday we received the Argentine Government’s reply. It amounted to a rejection of our own proposals, and we have so informed the Secretary-General…. The proposals have been rejected. They are no longer on the table… ”
Secretary Haig telephones Ambassador Henderson to give his impressions of the Prime Ministers speech; “He thought we were “well-postured”. We had played things intelligently and efficiently.”
Pym telegrams Parsons to tell him that the Secretary-General’s “ideas” represent a “significant downwards from what was our absolute bottom line.” With regard to military plans, Parsons should; “.. emphasize, as has been constantly stated in Parliament, that our search for a negotiated settlement has not affected and cannot affect the pressures, including military, which we have been bringing to bear on the Argentines.”
Parsons speaks to Pérez de Cuéllar; “I said that we appreciated the positive aspects of the aide memoire, but it differed in important respects from out bottom line. .. Even if acceptable to both sides as a basis for negotiations it would take days if not weeks to know whether success could be achieved. I had emphasised the importance of our deadline. Pérez de Cuéllar interrupted to say that he knew the importance of our deadline. His idea had been to work today with the Argentines in order to see whether he could persuade them to prepare a comprehensive paper for presentation to us in place of their unsatisfactory document… In conclusion Pérez de Cuéllar said that he had not told the press that he had produced a plan, just confidential ideas which he hoped would assist the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. He had no intention of publishing these..”
President Belaunde of Peru announces that he has put forward new proposals to the British and Argentine Ambassadors. Belaunde states that he has been encouraged by a telephone call from Costa Mendez saying that the Argentine Government are urgently examining the Peruvian proposal. Described as a ‘two document’ proposal, it states; “ (1) Each Nation subscribes unilaterally to the latest proposal for an agreement presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations; (2) The Secretary-General fulfills the clauses in which there are points of agreement, such as – (a) ceasefire; (b) mutual withdrawal of forces; (c) Administration of the Government of the Islands by the UN or by a contact group, formed of various countries, within a period which is agreed in the two proposals; (3) The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Pérez de Cuéllar, or the contact group acceptable to both parties, which he will propose, will be responsible for organising and presiding over negotiations in pursuit of a permanent solution and for supervising the immediate withdrawal from the zone of conflict of the forces of both countries.”
Parsons reports; “The Secretary-General has spent the whole day waiting for an Argentine reaction to his aide memoire of 19 May. At 2345z this evening he had still not had one.” The Secretary-General tells Ros that as he has not received a reply from Argentina, he has no choice but to inform the President of the Security Council that he cannot continue his efforts. Ros replies that he has been unable to get any response from Buenos Aires.
Pérez de Cuéllar writes to the President of the Security Council; “… I felt the time for reaching agreement through negotiations that would restore peace in the South Atlantic was extremely short. It remains my view that substantial progress was achieved in the past two weeks towards a diplomatic solution, but I must now state that the necessary accommodations which were still needed to end the conflict have not been forthcoming. In these circumstances, I feel it my duty to inform you that, in my judgement, the efforts in which I have been engaged, with the support of the Council, do not offer the present prospect of bringing about an end to the crisis nor, indeed, of preventing the intensification of the conflict.”
HMS Glamorgan bombards targets on the south coast to divert attention away from what is taking place in Falkland Sound.
British Embassies and Missions throughout the world are ordered to; “.. carry out the instructions .. If asked about the UN Secretary-General’s last-minute proposals, you should say that we have throughout warmly appreciated Sr. Pérez de Cuéllar’s efforts. However, given the hardening of the Argentine position in their latest text, it was clear that further negotiations would be fruitless.”
May 21st – British forces start to land at San Carlos. A unit of 25 men from 3 Special Boat Service attacks Argentine positions on high ground to the north of the bay, supported by covering fire from HMS Antrim. Members of the Special Air Service attack positions to the south of the landings, supported by fire from HMS Ardent.
In London, the effectiveness of economic sanctions is considered; “.. Externally, the most immediate impact has been the concern of international banking circles about Argentina’s credit-worthiness. Argentina’s total debt is US$34 billion, of which US$10 billion is short-term. Short-term credits are being rolled over, but longer term loans are not being replaced as they mature, and Argentina has not been able to raise any new loans since the invasion. The authorities have been obliged to introduce severe restrictions to prevent foreign currency outflows. There are now limits on imports and extensive controls on all foreign payments. .. Foreign currency reserves, which had fallen by US$400 million in March, fell a further US$500 million in April. Within Argentina , there has been a steady run on the banking system, as large number of people withdrew their deposits. At least 7 financial institutions have collapsed. Interest rates have risen sharply … The economy was already in recession before the invasion: this has got worse…”
In a press statement, the MoD announce; “The Task Force has landed a number of raiding parties on the Falkland Islands during the night. These raids are still in progress. Early indications are that they are achieving their objectives. Bombardment from ships in the Task Force continued in the vicinity of Port Stanley and other areas in East Falklands. Harriers from the Task Force have mounted attacks in the Fox Bay area. All these activities have been directed against Argentine military targets including fuel and ammunition dumps and military stores. ..”
Meeting in informal session at the request of Panama, the Security Council considers a proposal from Jeanne Kirkpatrick that it also meets later in closed session; after much wrangling, it is decided that a formal meeting of the Council will take place at 2.30pm New York time.
On East Falkland, 2 Para move five miles inland to secure the bridgehead.
10.30am: Argentina’s Air Force arrive over San Carlos and attack the fleet. HMSArdent is hit; set on fire and abandoned with the loss of 22 lives. HMS Argonaut, another frigate, is hit by two bombs, killing 2 seamen, although the bombs fail to explode. HMS Antrim, a County-class destroyer, is also hit but the bombs again fail to explode.
2 British helicopters and a Sea Harrier are shot down. The Harrier’s pilot, Flt. Lieut. Jeffrey Glover is injured and taken prisoner. Initial Argentine losses are put at 14 aircraft and 2 helicopters.
In London, the Defence Secretary makes a statement; “Following the raids we announced earlier today, British forces have now established a firm bridgehead on the Falkland Islands. Royal Marine commandos and the Parachute Regiment are now ashore in substantial numbers, with artillery, air defence weapons and other heavy equipment already disembarked .. our ships have come under heavy air attack – 5 have been damaged, 2 seriously. .. Our Harriers and missiles have destroyed 7 Mirage, 5 Sky Hawks and 2 Puccaras. 2 Argentine helicopters – a Chinook and a Puma have been destroyed on the ground. We have lost 2 of our small helicopters. Seven weeks after Argentine aggression, British forces are tonight firmly established back on the Falkland Islands.”
Pym informs the British Ambassador in Lima; “Belaunde’s new formula is of course very simplistic and offers no apparent means of bridging the very wide gap between our and the Argentine position. It is concerned with procedures rather than substance .. The essential first step is, as it has always been, an unequivocal Argentine commitment to withdraw its forces .. If President Belaunde were able to exert his considerable influence with President Galtieri in order to bring this about, the prospect for a peaceful and negotiated settlement would be immediately transformed.”
In Buenos Aires, President Galtieri responds to an initiative sent by President Turbay of Colombia; “ I value and appreciate every effort directed towards a peaceful solution of the conflict of the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. Our Government has employed its maximum effort to help the steps being taken by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We have shown that we are flexible and reasonable. We have abstained from using force and we have only done so in reply to Great Britain’s military aggression. We are witnessing today a new and serious phase of this armed aggression. The intransigent attitude of the Government of Great Britain which, to restore a colonial, anachronistic and illegal situation, resorts to violent means, shows itself once again as an immovable obstacle to all diplomatic solutions, .. to negotiate and attack at the same time thus creating a serious risk for world peace. ..”
At the UN, the Secretary-General gives an account of his activities since the adoption of Resolution 502 to the formal meeting of the Security Council. Argentina accuses the British of “rigidity,” while Japan calls for a resumption of negotiations. Australia says that Argentina began the crisis and is responsible for the consequences of its own recklessness. Before adjournment, Brazil calls for implementation of Resolution 502.
By the end of the day 2,400 British troops have landed and are dug in.
May 22nd – in Washington, Henderson speaks to Senator Biden who tells him that; “ .. support for our position reflects the closeness of Anglo/US relations rather than a feeling that important principles were at stake. .. We should not therefore assume that the Senate would support greater US involvement – or even maintain its present level of support for us indefinitely. … Against this background, Biden said we should not be surprised that so many Senators had taken the view that the US could not afford to impair its interests for the rights of self-determination of 1800 sheep farmers. If, in any renewed negotiations, self-determination for the Islanders were to become the one issue on our side standing in the way of a settlement, US support for us would evaporate. I said that I was astonished that self-determination could count for so little in the country that had invented it … Biden said he agreed and would continue to be our strongest supporter but we should not delude ourselves that Congressional opinion was altogether solid. ..”
In London, the Ministry of Defence amends the previous day’s statement; “Further reports on yesterday’s operations in the Falklands up-date Argentine aircraft losses as follows: 9 Mirages, 5 Skyhawks, 2 Pucaras and 4 helicopters. We have not received final casualty reports for yesterday’s operations. Initial reports indicate British casualties of 27 wounded, 2 missing and 3 dead. The two ships reported yesterday as being seriously damaged were hit by bombs in the series of air attack launched against our forces. The other three ships remain operational.”
Defence Secretary John Nott adds; “This morning the Union Jack is once again flying on the Falkland Islands… A major bridgehead has been established in the area of San Carlos on East Falkland. The major amphibious landing yesterday was a complete success. Tactical surprise was achieved and our troops landed safely with almost no interference from Argentine forces. We are now ashore on British sovereign territory in considerable force and have three Royal Marine Commandos and two Battalions of the Parachute Regiment firmly in place with their supporting arms including artillery and rapier and other air defence weapons. … To compliment the landings there were raids yesterday in other parts of East and West Falklands. In one of these Royal Marines captured an Argentine position on Fanning Head overlooking Falkland Sound. In another the airfield at Goose Green, and Argentine positions close by, were raided by our forces. Carrier based RAF Harriers launched attacks in the course of the morning against Argentine installations at Port Stanley airfield and the helicopters on the ground nearby, as well as military installations at Fox Bay. During these operations we lost two Gazelle helicopters, and one RAF Harrier is missing. The Argentine navy has so far made no attempt to intervene.. The Argentine force has, as expected, launched heavy raids on our ships… We are back on the Falkland Islands, and back in strength. We intend to ensure that aggression does not pay“
In Grantham Sound, HMS Ardent sinks in shallow water while two Harriers attack an Argentine patrol boat in Choiseul Sound. A field hospital is established at Ajax Bay and Uruguay agrees that casualties may be repatriated via Montevideo. Bad weather prevents further Argentine air attacks.
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II appeals for a cease-fire.
Peruvian President Belaunde announces that the Argentines have accepted “in principle” the latest Peruvian ideas albeit with certain reservations; “ .. which President Belaunde thought might not be insuperable. In particular, President Belaunde said that Galtieri had shown himself to be receptive to the idea of an “equidistant” withdrawal of forces. The Argentines feel that 150 miles is too near because their own bases are further away. … The president also said that the Argentines are not opposed to a UN Group governing the Islands for six months or even one year during which negotiations could take place. If at the end of this period there was no agreement, the Argentines would propose to return the problem to the United Nations. .. he understood that Costa Mendez was on his way to the UN, and that he thought it was therefore important that you should be informed straight away of the nature of Galtieri’s response…”
In New York, Sir Anthony Parsons reviews his tactics for the Security Council debate; “We have already got Canada and New Zealand on board, they will probably speak today, thus to some extent offsetting the torrent of Latin American rhetoric which is in store for us ( .. it will bore the Council to death). We are working on the Caribbeans, Americans and members of the Community… Abdulah (Trinidad) is on our side but gutless. … The new Barbadian Ambassador is a man of sterner stuff and I have some hopes of him. Our African friends – Zambia, Botswana, Kenya etc. are cheering us vigorously from the pavillion but are reluctant to go to the wicket. … The US and France are bound to make substantive comments at some stage but, given the personal qualities of Mrs Kirkpatrick and de Nanteuil, I suspect that the Guyanian statement will be more helpful. From the point of view of getting out Third World Commonwealth speakers, it might be worth your seeing if Ramphal would help ..”
When the Security Council convenes; Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, Panama, Canada, Guatemala and the United States contribute their views; “Of the Latins the Venezuelan and Panamanian Foreign ministers were abusive; the others made reasonably moderate statements, notably Guatemala. The Soviet Union was hostile but not abusive. Canada was excellent. The US statement was a little too even-handed. Mrs Kirkpatrick made small but important changes to the advance text.” The debate is adjourned until the 23rd.
Secretary Haig sees Ambassador Henderson privately to say that the US Government is increasingly concerned at the consequences for US interests in the continuing battle over the Falkland islands.
May 23rd – in the South Atlantic, clearing weather allows Argentina’s Air Force to return. HMS Antelope is hit and set on fire, although the bomb fails to explode. Argentine losses are reported by the Ministry in London; “.. Five Mirage and one Skyhawk are known to have been shot down; a further one Mirage and two Skyhawks were probably shot down. During these attacks one of our frigates sustained some damage. No reports on the extent of the damage have been received, nor have we any indication of casualties. We have had no reports of other damage to British ships or aircraft. In a separate incident earlier, Sea Harriers from the Task Force on routine patrol saw two Argentine Puma helicopters and one Bell helicopter in Falkland Sound .. The Harriers attacked and one Puma exploded; the Bell helicopter landed but was seen to be on fire and the second Puma may have been damaged.”
In America, the US Government comes in for criticism. John Oakes, writing in The New York Times, says that; “.. the venomous fury directed against the United States by Latin America demonstrates, not that America was wrong to support Britain, but that the Administration’s Latin American policy has been perversely wrong.”
During a radio broadcast, Galtieri responds to the Pope’s call for a ceasefire; “ … The call made by Your Holiness strengthens us in our unwavering desire to support all efforts which may lead to stopping a bloody confrontation we have not sought, and which is the result of an obstinate and intransigent attempt to restore an illegal colonial situation…”
The Security Council reconvenes; hearing thirteen speakers before adjourning again until the 24th. Parsons reports that support for the UK is “stretching very thin” and that a view is developing of the crisis bringing about a, “.. kind of cultural confrontation between Latin America and Western Europe/North America.”
May 24th – HMS Sir Galahad, HMS Sir Lancelot and HMS Sir Bedivere are hit. Fires break out on Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot. Sir Galahad is hit again, but this bomb fails to explode. The MoD announce that HMS Antelope has sunk.
In Argentina, Conviccion, tells its readers; “The marines, immobilized at San Carlos, await their Dunkirk. As Argentine troops concentrate to throw them into the sea, the British continue in the little beachhead without resupply.” Press reports in Panama have their Foreign Minister describing Margaret Thatcher as; “Hitler with skirts.”
Economic sanctions imposed by the European Community against Argentina are extended for an unspecified period.
The Washington Post reports; “Secretary of State Alexander Haig suggests that Britain’s successful landings on the Falklands – plus the sacrifices sustained by both sides – may make enough of a difference to permit negotiations to resume. Surely he is right. In its bridgehead and in its evident capacity to sustain operations ashore, Britain has something real to convert into political coin. Argentina may hope to raise the cost to the British and limit their military gains, but it cannot expect to boot them off the Islands again. The 40 isolated marines it swept up on April 2 are one thing, the 5,000 troops ashore, with their fleet protection, are quite another.”
Argentina calls for a meeting of the OAS.
In the Security Council, debate continues; “Maina (Kenya) made an admirably robust statement which was an effective antidote to all the Latins have been saying about a cultural confrontation between the West and Latin America. He said that the Breach of the Peace had started with Argentina’s aggression on 2 April. That was a separate question from the rights and wrongs of Argentina’s claims to sovereignty. Some of those who “felt obliged” to support Argentina’s case on sovereignty had tried to treat the two problems as one. … The Decolonisation argument was irrelevant. All of North and South America had been colonised in the 18th and 19th centuries. .. That was a fact of the world’s unfortunate past. This was not a colonial issue: Argentina was engaged in the purely territorial claim, in total disregard of the inhabitants of the Islands. The Argentine claim could not be settled at their expense: their interests were paramount. If the principle of decolonisation was distorted to redistribute peoples, the United Nations would be in real trouble.
The President, Ling Qing (China) speaking in his national capacity, said that the failure of the Secretary-General’s efforts and the arrival of British forces had brought about an escalation which China deeply deplored. It was regrettable that the Secretary-General’s negotiations had to stop because of the gap between two parties and because “the party with military strength had taken a tough stand.” There should be an immediate ceasefire and resumption of negotiations. The substantive problem was a legacy of colonialism..”
In Washington, Haig expresses his fears to Britain’s Ambassador; “.. Haig said that the US Government, by coming down on the British side, had already greatly jeopardised US interests in Latin America. What was at stake in the future was enormous. It was not simply a question of the economic sacrifices involved but of the enormous increase in Soviet and communist influence. Haig’s problem therefore was somehow to avoid a resolution under the Rio Treaty later this week that would isolate the USA still further from the rest of the American hemisphere. He suggested that the clue lay in close involvement with Brazil… Haig then suggested the sort of plan which I have already hinted to you might be on his mind: ceasefire and withdrawal, US/Brazilian interim administration and discussions without prejudice regarding the future – ideas that I told Haig have gone down in London like a lead balloon. Haig repeated his view about keeping the Brazilians in play .. I reminded Haig how often he had assured me that this would not be another Suez… I repeated that if he was thinking of an appeal for withdrawal by both sides and the establishment of an interim administration, this was just not on…”
On receiving Henderson’s telegram, Pym comments; “It is disconcerting that Haig should be so volatile. Haig was urging us only a few days ago to take military action…”
In the Security Council, Brazil puts forward a draft-Resolution; “.. the Security Council of the United Nations can no longer delay taking firm and decisive action to restore international peace and security. .. there is no alternative but that the Security Council must take a decision to put an immediate end to the military confrontation and to establish the bases for a permanent settlement of the problem. The Brazilian Government wish to submit .. the following points which .. can be the basis for a Council Resolution that will ensure a just and honourable peace without winners or losers.”
Brazil proposes – (1) an immediate cessation of hostilities, (2) simultaneous withdrawal to equal distances, (3) withdrawal to be complete within 21 days, (4) a UN administration which will consult the “representatives of the inhabitants,” (5) a Committee made up of both Britain and Argentina plus four other States with a mandate to conduct negotiations.
Parsons comments to the FCO; “We have told the Brazilians here that the time for such arrangements is now past and that there could be no question of our allowing a Resolution on these lines to be adopted.”
Ireland’s Ambassador Dorr, also tables a draft Resolution which, inter alia, calls for a suspension of hostilities for 72 hours; “.. the Non-Aligned members (excluding Panama) were annoyed with Dorr for going ahead and tabling a draft which he and everyone else knew that we would veto. The three Africans, Jordan and Guyana were desperately anxious to avoid a deadlock in the Security Council which could be followed by a major row generated by the Latin Americans in an emergency session of the General Assembly. This would only polarise relations between the regions, benefit the radicals and damage any prospect there might be of a peaceful outcome to the present crisis…”
Representatives from Panama and Japan also prepare draft texts. The Non-Aligned Movement submits a proposal for an amended version of the Irish draft Resolution while the Council meeting is adjourned until the 25th. Parsons seeks instructions from London.
Interviewed by the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ current affairs team in New York, Costa Mendez asserts that Argentina would defend the Falklands as long as there is “one Argentine alive in either the continent or in the Islands.” He tells his interviewers that Argentina had been seeking a peaceful solution for 17 years and that he considers the invasion to be part of that search for a settlement. Mendez confirms that Argentina is willing to make any concession except sovereignty.
In Santiago, Argentina seeks Chilean support for an OAS condemnation of British aggression; calls for a cessation of hostilities with a return to ‘natural’ bases; a resumption of UN negotiations and the adoption by OAS States of measures to discourage the UK and assist Argentina. Chile’s Foreign Ministry assures the British Embassy that they will vote against each point except that calling for a resumption of negotiations.
Intelligence is received from Caracas to the effect that the Venezuelan Government is attempting to persuade all Latin American countries to withdraw their Ambassadors from the UK, and break off diplomatic relations.
May 25th – the destroyer HMS Coventry, with the frigate, HMS Broadsword, again using the 42-22 formation, are attacked by Argentine Skyhawks in Falkland Sound. HMS Coventry is sunk. 19 men are lost. HMS Broadsword is also hit, but the bomb fails to explode. An Exocet missile hits the container ship, Atlantic Conveyor, which is set on fire and abandoned.
HMS Glamorgan bombards targets around Stanley. Portugal grants permission for Nimrod refuelling at its Lajes air base in the Azores while New Zealand’s offer of a frigate, HMNZS Canterbury, is gratefully accepted by PM Thatcher. An additional Blowpipe battery is deployed to the South Atlantic from British forces in Germany.
Margaret Thatcher responds to President Turbay’s initiative of the 21st; “ … If you, Mr. President, can bring home to the Argentine Government not only the extent of our determination to achieve a just solution to this crisis, but also the imperative need to withdraw their forces from the Falkland Islands in accordance with Security Council Resolution 502, you would be making a contribution to the peace of South America and of the World which it would be hard to exaggerate.”
At the reconvened Security Council meeting in New York, Foreign Ministers representing Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela circulate a ‘Declaration’ – “We confirm the rejection by Latin America of the United Kingdom’s military offensive against the South American continent … We strongly protest against the British decision, officially communicated to the Government of Uruguay, to the effect that the United Kingdom has decided to extend its naval and air military action to the River Plate. This deplorable decision, in addition to violating general international law and the River Plate Treaty, carries the British aggression into the very heart of the continent.. This directly affects the integrity and security of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, while at the same time aggravating and spreading the conflict which has resulted from the United Kingdom’s military adventure … We reject with righteous indignation the decision taken by the European Economic Community, with the honorable exception of Ireland and Italy, extending indefinitely the economic aggression which, under the pretext of ‘sanctions,’ has been imposed on Argentina. This act, which is offensive to the whole of Latin America, constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security and presages the generalization of a conflict which, day by day, is assuming the character of an intercontinental confrontation. We note with alarm that, although a number of weeks have elapsed since the beginning of the British fleet’s armed attack on the Argentine Republic, the Security Council has taken no action … This concern is seriously increased by the fact that, after four days of debate in the Council, during which both the fighting and the loss of life have intensified, it has not proved possible to respond to the outcry of mankind, which demands an unconditional ceasefire …”
Costa Mendez attacks the UK for, “unleashing war” in the South Atlantic and rejecting the accusation that it had been Argentina which had been the first to use force; “ .. It was the UK which had used force to occupy the Islands in 1833. Colonialism was an act of force, permanent aggression and a crime: that was the true explanation of current events. It was not for the United Kingdom, the colonial power par-excellence, to give lectures on self-determination. The UK had abstained when the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1514, the Magna Carta of decolonisation. The UK’s true attitude to self-determination was demonstrated in Diego Garcia where 1,400 inhabitants were compulsorily moved to make way for an American military base. Self-determination for the Malvinas was a joke…”
In response, Sir Anthony Parsons outlines the true history of events surrounding 1833 before adding; “… The Foreign Minister referred at length to self-determination.. It is true that we took the position in the 1960’s that self-determination was a principle and not a right. However, in 1966 the two international Covenants on economic, social and cultural rights and on civil and political rights were adopted…. The United Kingdom has ratified both these Covenants, which have entered into force. Furthermore, in 1970, the General Assembly adopted by consensus – that is, with the United Kingdom joining in the consensus – the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. .. Not only has my country endorsed the right to self-determination in the sense of the Charter, the Covenants and the Friendly Relations Declaration, but we have gone a great deal further to disprove the allegation that we are the colonial power par-excellence. Since General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) was adopted .. we have brought to sovereign independence and membership of this organisation no less that 28 States. We are proud of our record…”
In an interview, President Alvarez of Uruguay denies rumours that the British are blockading the Rio de la Plata.
Francis Pym telegrams Parsons; “ .. our position now is that while we remain willing to agree to a ceasefire if Argentina clearly and irrevocably commits herself to very early and total withdrawal of her forces, we are not prepared to accept any other conditions. … You should vote against the Irish draft Resolution if it is put to the vote as it stands .. ”
From Washington, Ambassador Henderson informs London; “I went over the ground with Eagleburger this morning. He assured me that instructions had been sent to Mrs Kirkpatrick that if the Irish Resolution came to a vote in its present form the United States should veto it..”
Parsons responds to Pym; “Through the morning and at the Security Council lunch, I have negotiated firmly on the Irish draft as revised by the Non-Aligned Movement, .. we have carried almost all our points… We have a clear reaffirmation of 502.. I am under very strong pressure to agree this evening so that we can get out of the Council before this fragile near-agreement breaks down. .. I therefore recommend that I should be instructed to accept this with a suitable explanation of vote, after the vote…”
Summing up the day’s debate, he adds; “.. Guyana was first class, as was Chile given its circumstances. The other Non-Aligned were not at all bad. Netherlands was as unhelpful as the other Europeans (except Belgium) have been, but Italy was a bit more robust. … The Argentines had the better of the first two days, with a flood of Latin rhetoric, but by the end the general feeling, I think, was that we had won quite handsomely on points. For this we should be especially grateful to Kenya, Guyana and Belgium – the old Commonwealth support for us was taken for granted.”
Parsons informs the Council that Britain is ready to vote in favour of the draftinitially proposed by Ireland, as amended by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). His instructions include the necessity of emphasising that; “.. an Argentine withdrawal must now be totally unconditional and not linked to any parallel British withdrawal.”
Costa Mendez asks for time to consider the measure and a vote is deferred until the 26th.
Alexander Haig expresses his “thoughts” to Francis Pym; “ .. I see major advantages in an effort by you to put forward terms of a just and reasonable settlement as soon as you are sure that you can and will succeed militarily. … ” NBC television, Reuters and Associated Press all carry news reports that Secretary Haig has called on the British Government not to “crush” the Argentines in the Falklands, but to “think carefully.” The reports suggest that Argentina would seek a scapegoat, and that scapegoat would be the United States. Haig is said to be “upset” by the leak and to consider it, “damaging.”
From London, the FCO instruct all Ambassadors and Missions in NAM countries to speak to their counterparts and ensure that in the meeting scheduled for the 31st emphasis is laid upon the original aggression by Argentina and their failure to comply with SCR 502.
May 26th – on East Falkland, British troops commence their advance towards Darwin.
John Nott makes a statement to Parliament; “During the past seven weeks the Royal Navy has assembled, organised and despatched over 100 ships, involving over 25,000 men and women, 8,000 miles away to the other end of the world. The Task Force has recaptured South Georgia and successfully accomplished a hazardous amphibious landing of around 5,000 men without a single fatal land casualty. The morale of our forces is high. … Our forces on the ground are now poised to begin their thrust upon Port Stanley; behind them are another 3,000 men of 5 Brigade, whilst reinforcements and resupply are virtually denied to the Argentine garrison on the island. Generally the military objective to repossess the Falkland Islands has gone forward exactly as we planned it. ..”
In London, Francis Pym is informed that; “President Turbay had spoken to the Presidents of Brazil and Peru, who had agreed to put forward ideas on an informal basis .. In the absence of any diplomatic activity to resolve the crisis, there would be strong pressures at the Rio Treaty meeting on 27 May to take radical positions against the UK. What was needed was time to allow pressures to be brought to bear on Argentina to reach an agreement which the UK could accept. .. The three Governments therefore wished to know whether we could consider agreement to a suspension of military operations for 5 days ..”
Pym politely says “No.”
In Bonn, Rheinishe Post asserts that Germany’s support for the UK is, “grudging and full of reservations stemming from incomprehension at many aspects of Mrs. Thatcher’s Falklands strategy,” and that Germany will not go, “through thick and thin,” with Britain.
Ambassador Tickell, in Mexico, updates President Lopez Portillo privately; “The President asked me to convey his warm thanks to the Prime Minister. He deplored the loss of life and waste of resources involved in the conflict. He did not doubt our capacity to recover the Islands and indicated that he hoped we would not be too long about it…”
At the UN, Costa Mendez indicates that Argentina can accept the Security Council’s Resolution as amended.
In the Security Council’s debate; “Spain and Togo listed the cessation of hostilities, negotiation and peace as the priorities of the Council’s action, as did several other speakers who urged the Council to call for an immediate ceasefire. Jordan asserted that the Council should not resign itself to the role of onlooker while blood was being shed, and Brazil said the Council was duty bound to prevent a worsening of the situation. Greece said the Council’s prestige would be enhanced if it unequivocally condemned all invasions and breaches of the Charter provisions. Colombia asserted that the United Nations would emerge greatly weakened if it failed to enforce international law and maintenance of international peace and security, while the United States considered that the Organization had functioned in the crisis in the manner foreseen by its founders and its Charter. … Several countries, among them Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela, held the United Kingdom responsible for blocking the negotiating efforts. China said the negotiations had broken down due to a tough stand taken by the party with superior military strength. Bolivia asserted that any peace effort would be doomed to failure as long as the United Kingdom persisted in its equivocal stand. Panama and the USSR said the United Kingdom had resorted to the language of ultimatums and virtually broken off negotiations by resorting to the use of force.
Antigua and Barbuda believed the United Kingdom had made genuine attempts to reach a negotiated settlement. The United States said the United Kingdom had indicated its willingness to consider, but Argentina had rejected or chosen not to consider, first the United States proposal and subsequently the Peruvian peace plan, both based on the Council’s 3 April resolution. New Zealand said it was Argentina’s obduracy and rigidity that had frustrated and blocked the Secretary-General’s efforts just when it looked as if an agreement was within reach. … The Federal Republic of Germany, Guyana, Jordan, Uganda and Zaire believed the mandate should be based on the Council’s 3 April resolution. … Australia said Argentina’s invocation of paragraph 1 of the 3 April resolution in accusing the United Kingdom of hostile action was a perverted reading of that text, as that paragraph, it said, was directed to the state of armed conflict caused by the Argentine seizure of the Falklands.”
Other issues are aired; “… the majority of Latin American countries, along with China, Equatorial Guinea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Poland, the USSR, Yugoslavia and Zaire, supported Argentina’s territorial claim, while endorsing efforts to find a peaceful solution to the dispute. El Salvador asserted that Argentina’s occupation of the Islands was in accordance with its lawful title to them, which led Panama to state that there had been no breach of peace on 3 April, when Argentina recovered the Islands.
Belgium and Kenya said territorial claims should not be allowed to override the interests of peoples in choosing democratically their own destinies. Australia considered that Argentina had been insistent on loaded arrangements in the Falklands which, if accepted, would lead to conceding its demand of sovereignty and ignoring the rights of the Falklanders; if Argentina’s aggression was allowed to persist, it would itself amount to colonialism.
In a similar vein, Kenya said Argentina could not claim any right to impose its own form of colonialism on the Islands’ inhabitants. New Zealand added that the two aggrieved parties in the crisis were the United Kingdom and the people of the Falklands.
In contrast, Panama called it illogical to talk of the right to self-determination- the right of the oppressed-in the Malvinas case, when the inhabitants of the Islands were dependents of a British colonial company; .. Colombia, noting that the United Kingdom’s policy of decolonization had allowed the independence of many countries by means of negotiations, believed it reasonable to expect that the Malvinas case could also be solved in that manner. Zaire also noted the United Kingdom’s past record of decolonization, ….
The Netherlands felt that Argentina’s resort to force could not be justified in terms of international law. Antigua and Barbuda said that, as a small island State dependent for its security on the United Nations, it had to deplore Argentina’s illegal use of force in seizing the Falklands in defiance of the Council. In a similar vein, Guyana rejected the attitude of those which held aloft the action of 2 April as an example to be emulated, and said aggression should not be rewarded.”
Put to a vote, the Security Council adopt the amended Resolution.
UN Security Council Resolution 505 – “ The Security Council,
Reaffirming its resolution 502 (1982),
Noting with the deepest concern that the situation in the region of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) has seriously deteriorated,
Having heard the statement made by the Secretary-General at its 2360th meeting, on 21 May 1982, as well as the statements made in the debate by the representatives of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
Concerned to achieve, as a matter of the greatest urgency, a cessation of hostilities and an end to the present conflict between the armed forces of Argentina and the United Kingdom,
1. Expresses appreciation to the Secretary-General for the efforts that he has already made to bring about an agreement between the parties, to ensure the implementation of resolution 502 (1982), and thereby to restore peace to the region;
2. Requests the Secretary-General, on the basis of the present resolution, to undertake a renewed mission of good offices, bearing in mind resolution 502 (1982) and the approach outlined in his statement of 21 May 1982;
3. Urges the parties to the conflict to co-operate fully with the Secretary-General in his mission with a view to ending the present
hostilities in and around the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas);
4. Requests the Secretary-General to enter into contact immediately with the parties with a view to negotiating mutually acceptable terms for a cease-fire, including, if necessary, arrangements for the dispatch of United Nations observers to monitor compliance with the terms of the cease-fire;
5. Requests the Secretary-General to submit an interim report to the Security Council as soon as possible and, in any case, not later than seven days after the adoption of the present resolution.”
Exercising Britain’s right of reply, Sir Anthony Parsons tells the Council; “ My delegation voted in favour of the Resolution just adopted .. We did so because it contains a clear reaffirmation of SCR 502. It registers beyond doubt that the Secretary-General’s efforts have been, and will be, concentrated on ensuring the implementation of SCR 502. This is the key to the return of peace to the region… In particular, this key lies in the second operative paragraph of SCR 502, namely the unconditional demand for the immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands. I must make clear, so that there is no misunderstanding, that for our part the only acceptable condition for a ceasefire is that it should be unequivocally linked to an immediate commencement of Argentine withdrawal. The history of the last two months has done nothing to create British confidence in the Government of Argentina … Hence a simple verbal agreement by Argentina to withdraw its forces would not be sufficient for a ceasefire. Mr. President the Council should also be quite clear on another point. The situation has changed … we are talking about Argentine withdrawal. We cannot now accept that Argentine withdrawal be linked in any way to parallel British withdrawal…”
In a telegram to London, Parsons sums up the day’s proceedings; “We owe a lot to the old Commonwealth, Kenya, Guyana and Belgium for their robust support, slightly less to the FRG (Germany), little or nothing to the rest of our partners who spoke, including France: the US statement was too even handed for our liking. However, to a greater or lesser extent, all these statements offset the Latin American barrage … The fact that we emerged without having to veto, which seemed most unlikely at the outset, was due to a number of factors – the firmness with which we stated our own positions both privately and publicly: the reluctance of the Non-Aligned members of the Council to allow a veto situation to develop both because of basic sympathy for us and because they realised that a deadlock would effectively deal the UN out of any further useful role in the crisis: the Irish tactics which the Non-Aligned found both irritating and unacceptable: and the Latin American desire to get out of the Council in order to leave their hands free for the OAS meeting in Washington on the 27th… It is ironic .. that our best support should have come from Africans, Asians and Caribbeans, with our partners and allies either useless or actively unhelpful. …”
With only seven days available before reporting back to the Security Council, Pérez de Cuéllar request that Argentina and Britain provide, within 24 hours, the terms each consider acceptable for a cease-fire; “Pérez de Cuéllar asked to see me privately … Was it really the case that we could no longer contemplate any parallel British withdrawal? I confirmed that it was. … He did not think that he would have any alternative but to report to the Security Council that mutually acceptable terms for a cease-fire were unobtainable. .. I urged him nevertheless to try to find some change in the Argentine position.”
In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Central Bank announces that, with immediate effect, payments for imported goods can only be made 180 days after shipment; “This measure is aimed at saving foreign currency to meet needs arising from the Falklands conflict. .. and suggests that the Argentines face great difficulties in meeting their foreign exchange commitments.”
May 27th – Britain’s Ambassador to Ireland informs Taoiseach Charles Haughey that, as a result of Ireland tabling a draft Resolution which they knew was not acceptable to the UK, relations had taken a, “considerable turn for the worse.”
Henderson reports that the Americans are still concerned that their relationships with Latin America are suffering as a result of their continued support of the UK; “.. As they see it, we are now insisting on surrender of the Argentinian garrison and a return to British rule without any definite commitment to an attempt to achieve a long-term solution. In effect, we are basing ourselves on a return to the status quo ante. …”
In the message’s final paragraph, Britain’s Ambassador goes on to suggests that the Islanders’ interests could be safeguarded by; “ .. some international group comprising say, two regional powers, plus the US and the UK, with the presence perhaps of the US and Brazilian forces and that, without prejudice to the future, in a given number of years this group will, in keeping with the wishes and interests of the Islanders, make proposals about the status of the Falkland Islands.”
In London, after reading Henderson’s suggestions, Thatcher scrawls the word “NO” across the last paragraph.
The OAS meet in Washington. Secretary Haig makes a “detailed and determined” speech in which the focus of his remarks are on the fact that, since it was Argentina which had committed the original act of aggression, it would be wrong to invoke the Rio Treaty. His speech is greeted in silence while those delegates that attack the United States are given ovations.
“Costa Mendez set the tone with an intemperate onslaught against the US which had failed in its duty to join with its hemispheric neighbours against an external threat. He urged Argentina’s true friends to unite in solidarity against the UK, which throughout the negotiations had acted with total intransigence. British actions were an insult to the Latin American continent. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister accused the British of having a punitive obsession which was shared by the EC, … He asserted that the lucus standi of the UN in this dispute was subordinate to that of the OAS and the Rio Treaty. He accused the US of incomprehensibly deserting its friends… The Nicaraguan Deputy Foreign Minister maintained that in future the Rio Treaty signatories should meet in Latin America and not in Washington, which was “foreign territory.”.. The US was an accomplice in British aggression… The Peruvian Foreign Minister maintained that Argentina had throughout been flexible… Colombia introduced a mild hand-wringing Resolution. Trinidad and Tobago repeated its support for self-determination and condemned Argentina for using force to resolve a dispute. Illueca (Panama) made his usual long-winded and abusive speech. Costa Rica, Uruguay, Bolivia and Guatemala spoke without adding anything, although the last three joined the mob in condemning the US.”
Francis Pym replies to de Cuéllar’s urgent question; “… You have asked about the British Government’s definition of acceptable terms for a ceasefire. In our view a ceasefire that was not linked inseparably to Argentine withdrawal would give Argentina another opportunity for procrastination through intransigence. The British answer to your question is therefore that a ceasefire is highly desirable and would be acceptable if it was inseparably linked to the commencement of Argentine withdrawal and the completion of that withdrawal within a fixed period. … A change of position by Argentina involving willingness to implement Resolution 502 could transform the situation. It would be most encouraging if in your resumed efforts for peace under the mandate of Security Council Resolution 505 you could obtain from Argentine convincing evidence of such a change. Argentina’s immediate response to your question yesterday may not do this, in which case I hope you would go back to them on the point….”
British special forces land in strength on Mount Kent. Atlantic Conveyor sinks.
Argentina terminates all contracts with German ship yards on account of the arms embargo and the interruption of supplies for the Corvettes being built there.
May 28th – PM Thatcher invites Lord Shackleton to update his Report while the Pope arrives in London for a six day visit to Britain.
In the Falklands, Argentine commanders hear a BBC announcement of a British advance on Darwin and Goose Green but believe that it’s a ploy. HMS Arrow lay down covering fire for the Parachute Regiment’s advance – on Darwin and Goose Green. Colonel H. Jones is killed in a charge on Argentine lines, an action for which he is awarded the Victoria Cross.
Darwin is occupied by British troops at 5pm local time. The local FIC agent, Robert Hardcastle, reports to the company; “Very thankful to be liberated. .. Some houses destroyed. All employees and visitors safe. … Regret to advise goons occupied and looted all houses, stores, farm materials, Rovers, tractors and equipment. Settlement area a shambles. Much indiscriminate sheep killing for food by goons in helicopters …”
In London, Brazil’s Ambassador, Roberto Campos, calls on Francis Pym in London; “ .. Matters were now at a critical point. British insistence on an unconditional Argentine withdrawal would have a destabilising effect both on Argentina and the Region. If Argentina were faced with military humiliation, it might have no choice but to turn to the Soviet Union. Figueiredo .. wished to know whether the British position on Argentine withdrawal and on full restoration of British sovereignty was irreversible. He hoped not .. He hoped that we might indicate a continued willingness to negotiate a solution which might involve a phased and mutual withdrawal and interim administration arrangements. I said .. following our landing on the Islands, the circumstances were inevitably different. .. We intended to repossess the Islands and to restore our administration. .. Campos, who was in a waspish mood, went on to make some sharp criticism of our position on sovereignty … It was not a productive exchange. ..”
Argentina answers Pérez de Cuéllar’s urgent question of the 26th, providing the minimum terms upon which they are willing to accept a ceasefire. These include a suspension of all operations by troops; monitoring by the UN; separate zones to be established on the Islands if necessary; no military reinforcement; the UN to provide food etc to the troops and civilians; negotiations to take place on the withdrawal of both parties and an interim Administration.
May 29th – President Mitterand informs Mrs. Thatcher that he is under pressure to complete the order of Exocet missiles to Peru; “Peru has made it known to other Latin American countries that France is declining to execute the contract. Consequently, France’s contracts with other Latin American countries are in danger.”
At Goose Green, Lieut. Colonel Italo Piaggi and 1,400 Argentine troops surrender to a British force of 500.
“At one end of Goose Green settlement a Union Jack now flies high above the school. At the other end, the flag of the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment. After a whole day’s bitter fighting and a morning’s delicate surrender negotiations, the cheers of liberation came in the early afternoon. Women handed round cups of tea in Royal wedding mugs. Children carried round tins of sweets and biscuits to young Paras .. For nearly a month, 114 people had been shut up by the Argentinians in community hall. Their houses had been raided with furniture smashed and excrement on the floor.… Now the 1200 or so prisoners are being made to clean up the mess…”
Argentine troops discover that Mount Kent has been seized by the SAS, providing a commanding view of port Stanley. Efforts to dislodge the special forces are unsuccessful.
With both sides now aware of the other’s ‘minimum‘ for a ceasefire, Argentina contacts the Secretary-General to claim that the conditions offered by the British are terms, “for surrender.” Pérez de Cuéllar speaks to Parsons to tell him that the Argentines, however, are displaying some interest in the reference to “international security arrangements” and wish to know what the British mean. Cuéllar assures Parsons that he will not expect clarification before the 31st.
During the vote on a new OAS Resolution which openly sides with Argentina; attacks the USA for its economic sanctions and accuses the UK of being the aggressor, William Middendorf, the USA representative to the OAS, abstains, saying; “We believe the Resolution before us to be one-sided. It charges some; it ignores the actions of others. It ignores what the legal effects of first use of force should be. Further, there is no recognition that there must be compliance by both parties with all elements of UN Security Council Resolution 502 …”
In Washington, Haig speaks to Henderson with his thoughts on a ceasefire; “Haig … gave me a piece of paper containing four points .. in connection with the American ideas – (1) restoration of local administration does not include return of a Governor; (2) avoidance of publicly espousing independence or semi-independence, as the British goal; (3) agreement on withdrawal would have to say something about non-reintroduction of forces; (4) contact group to stay on indefinitely.”
Henderson tells Haig that the British Government are considering some form of independence for the Islanders. Haig responds that the British should refrain from mentioning it as it would be unacceptable to the Argentines; “They regard it as tantamount to saying that we would not in any circumstances accept the transfer of sovereignty.”
PM Thatcher, on receiving Haig’s suggestions, writes “NO” against (2), (3) and (4).
May 30th – HMS Ambuscade and HMS Glamorgan bombard targets near Port Stanley. 45 Commando and 3 Para secure Douglas and Teal. Argentine reports that HMS Invincible has been hit by an Exocet missile are denied.
In London, Thatcher responds to the French President’s message of the previous day; “If it became known, as it certainly would, that France was now releasing weapons to Peru that would be passed on to Argentina for use against us, France’s ally, this would have a devastating effect on the relationship between our two countries. Indeed it would have a devastating effect on the alliance (NATO) as a whole.”
Pym diplomatically advises Henderson that; “Haig’s ideas are being examined very carefully, but they require a good deal of further consideration by Ministers. We foresee that it will probably not, repeat not, be possible to transmit a full response to him through you before Tuesday 1 June..”
Parsons is informed that the British Government consider that Argentine terms for a ceasefire are unacceptable and that the position is as previously stated on May 27th; “.. You should hold out no hope of our altering it in the face of the continued Argentine intransigence … We naturally recognise that, in the circumstances, the Secretary-General may feel obliged to report failure to the Security Council…”
May 31st – Mitterand informs Peru that the Exocet order cannot be met for; “political reasons.”
£500,000, much of it raised by public collections, is sent to the UK by the people of the Caymen Islands; “at a time when their Mother Country is in need of help.”
Elements of 42 Commando and the SAS are airlifted to positions near Stanley. Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre troops attack Argentine special forces at Top Malo House, taking the position after a fire-fight. All of the Argentine force are killed or captured.
Argentina circulates the 29th ‘s OAS Resolution claiming it to be a “document of the Security Council.”
Sir Anthony Parsons recommends to the FCO that he should respond by pointing out that the OAS Resolution fails to refer to SCR Resolutions 502 and 505 and that the Security Council has; “the Primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Parson’s provides Britain’s response to Pérez de Cuéllar’s question with regard to security arrangements; “You asked what terms for a ceasefire would be acceptable to us. … Our answer to your question is that a cease-fire must be inseparably linked to the commencement of the withdrawal of Argentine troops and to the completion of the withdrawal within a fixed period. … While we should be willing to consider in the longer term the possibility of alternative international security arrangements for the protection of the Islanders, there is no question of our agreeing to the withdrawal of British forces in parallel to Argentine withdrawal. ..”
The Secretary-General summons Argentina’s Deputy Foreign Minister to provide the clarification requested.
Parsons reports; “ .. Pérez de Cuéllar telephoned me after seeing Ros to ask if I would receive De Soto in my mission: Pérez de Cuéllar had some questions .. De Soto turned up about two hours later. It emerged that a 5 point plan for the implementation of SCR 502 and 505 had been put to the Argentines who, after long deliberation amongst themselves, had agreed to forward it to Buenos Aires. However, Ros had not brought any fresh instructions to deliver to the Secretary-General: he had called only to hear our final response…
Pérez de Cuéllar’s 5 point plan is – (1) at time ‘T’ a ceasefire would come into force and be monitored by UN observers; (2) at time ‘T’ plus 24 hours, Argentine withdrawal would begin in implementation of SCR 502 (ie total Argentine withdrawal), (3) at time ‘T’ plus 24 hours, token British withdrawal would begin, (4) the withdrawals would be completed within ‘X’ days, (5) negotiations would begin under the auspices of the Secretary-General within the framework of SCR 505.
De Soto summed up Pérez de Cuéllar’s views as follows. Points (2) and (4) would give us total Argentine withdrawal, whereas point (3) would amount to the restoration of British Administration. .. He hoped this would enable us to consider “the longer term” more as “the near future”..”
In a separate telegram, Sir Anthony Parsons opines; “I believe that this is a genuine effort by Pérez de Cuéllar to try to find a last-minute solution .. I do not believe that he is playing some kind of double game. However, as I see it, his proposals are unacceptable. First, if UN observers were in situ under a mandatory Resolution, and the Argentines found pretexts not to withdraw, it would be very difficult for us to resume military action. Secondly, his plan involves some British withdrawal. Thirdly, it could resuscitate the whole idea of UN interim administration, target dates and UN supervision of the negotiations for a final solution. Nevertheless, it enables us to buy a little more time … I recommend therefore that I should be instructed to give him a reasoned response.. His proposals pose greater difficulties for the Argentines, since they involve total Argentine withdrawal .. This is another reason why it will be in our interests to talk to him about his plan rather than rejecting it outright.”
President Reagan telephones PM Thatcher to suggest that she call a halt to hostilities. “President Reagan said that the USA considered it imperative that the UK should show that it was prepared to talk before the Argentineans were forced to withdraw. Willingness to talk now could prevent a Peronist take-over in Argentina in the future. The President had spoken to the President of Brazil who shared his view that the best chance for peace was before complete Argentine humiliation….”
Thatcher responds; “ I didn’t lose some of my best ships and some of my finest lives, to leave quietly under a ceasefire without the Argentines withdrawing… I’m not handing over the island now … I can’t lose the lives and blood of our soldiers to hand the islands over to a contact group. It’s not possible… This is democracy and our island, and the very worst thing for democracy would be if we failed now ..”
June 1st – during a television interview with the BBC, the Prime Minister is asked whether she sees a future role for Argentina on the Falkland islands; “I cannot, myself, see a role in anything relating to sovereignty, for the Argentines on the Falkland Islands. You saw what happened in Goose Green and Darwin, how our people have been treated. They’d never wanted to go to Argentine before, they’ll be even less likely now. … It is after all a cardinal part of the United Nations Charter, that countries should come to self-Government and independence and I believe that we can do that with the Falkland Islands.”
Ambassador Henderson speaks to Judge Clark at the White House; “Clark said that he believed the President did understand the firmness of our position. Neither he nor Haig were wishing to undermine this. .. “We are in it with you,” Judge Clark said. This was very much the President’s conviction. But this did not prevent him from believing that considerable damage had already been done to the USA’s relations with its Latin American neighbours, that the US should not neglect any chance of preventing further bloodshed and the humiliation of Argentina that could give a hostage to the future, and that in the long-term there had to be a settlement …”
Henderson reports; “Haig has spoken to me in the light of the Prime Minister’s talk with the President and my talk with Judge Clark. He says that there is no good in pursuing his ideas. It is a pity, but he understands.”
Ambassador Hutchinson in Montevideo is invited to speak to the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs, in company with the Argentine Ambassador, to see; “what could be done to achieve a cease-fire.”
Haig sends a message to Henderson; “He did not expect a Resolution to come forward for another day or two. The Argentinians were still putting forward wholly unrealistic requirements for a cease-fire, asking for mutual withdrawal. But he hoped that we could again manoeuvre, as we had so successfully last week, to avoid a situation in which we and the Americans were isolated in the UN. It was, as usual, clear throughout this conversation that Haig has no confidence whatever in Mrs. Kirkpatrick, with whom he has just had another major row on this issue, and foresees more trouble from her. Haig thought we should be in a position to win militarily in the near future. The question was, how, after the garrison had surrendered, to bring the conflict to an end. I said it seemed clear that the Argentinians actually preferred military defeat to any diplomatic settlement. I also pointed out that their prospects of continuing with air attacks would be much diminished once we had recovered control of the Port Stanley airfield. Haig agreed but said the President would want to discuss with the Prime Minister, ways of trying to mend fences with Latin America and limit Soviet opportunities to exploit the aftermath .. He said again that he did not think that independence could be a viable solution..”
Francis Pym advices Parsons; “Pérez de Cuéllar’s five-point plan is certainly unacceptable as it stands. But I agree that without raising false hopes or misrepresenting our position you should give him a reasoned response… You should tell the Secretary-General that while other aspects of his plan give us difficulty we approve the emphasis on total Argentine withdrawal with a fixed period of time. We look forward to learning of the Argentine response.”
At the Falklands, an Argentine C-130 reconnaissance aircraft is shot down and 5 Brigade commences its disembarkation at San Carlos. Intelligence indicates that Libya is supplying missiles to Argentina in military and civilian Boeing 707’s transiting via Cape Verde/Las Palmas and Brazil. Peru offers the use of its Air Force for the evacuation of Argentine wounded from Stanley.
HMS Avenger bombards Argentine positions on Pebble Island, while HMS Active and HMS Ambuscade pound targets around Stanley.
In New York, Parsons transmits Pym’s points to the Secretary-General who is; “ .. disheartened by them.”
Ros then tells Pérez de Cuéllar that Argentina is willing to accept his proposals provided; “… (1) .. the completion of the total British withdrawal, whatever its rhythm, would be within Y days (2) It is clearly understood that in no case would British forces remain alone on the Islands. The Blue Helmets should be on the Islands before the completion of withdrawal of Argentine forces. The withdrawal of Argentine forces from the areas occupied by them should correspond with a gradual takeover of control of those areas by Blue Helmets (3) The British forces shall abstain from widening their areas of occupation at the date of ceasefire. …..”
Parsons informs London, adding; “… what this amounted to to was that a date would have to be agreed for the completion of total British withdrawal and that British forces would not be able to establish control over the whole of the Islands.. Pérez de Cuéllarr recognises that his current efforts have come to an end.”
The new French President of the Security Council calls a meeting for the 2nd for the Secretary-General’s report.
Ambassador Henderson in Washington assesses the assistance provided by the United States; “I do not need to go into the details about the value of the intelligence cooperation which has been given, the full extent of which is well know to the JIC. So far as communications facilities are concerned, the Americans have made especially available satellite communication channels at considerable cost to their own operations, communications sets for our special forces on the Islands, secure speech facilities with the fleet and satellite weather information. So far as equipment is concerned, we have over the last month procured at least $120 million of US material made available at very short notice and frequently from stocks normally earmarked for US operational requirements. This equipment has included the latest air-to-air Side-winder missiles urgently required for use by the Harriers, the Vulcan phalanx anti-missile gun system for HMS Illustrious, 4700 tons of airstrip matting for the Port Stanley airport once it has been recaptured, conversion of the SS Stena Inspector for use as a repair ship in the South Atlantic, Shrike missiles for use by the Vulcans, helicopter engines, submarine detection devices for use by the Sea King Helicopters, Temporary accommodation on a large scale for Ascension Island for our forces, Stinger ground-to-air missiles (already used successfully against Argentine aircraft), as well as the usual array of weapons and ammunition…”
June 2nd – HMS Arrow bombards Fox Bay while 2 Para reaches Bluff Cove. Harrier reinforcements arrive from Ascension Island and surrender leaflets are dropped on Port Stanley. Hospital ship Hecla arrives in Montevideo and disembarks 24 Argentine prisoners and 18 British casualties.
Colombia’s President Turbay writes to Thatcher appealing for her to; “ .. consider the possibility of reaching an honourable peace agreement with Argentina, thus avoiding the unnecessary holocaust of many innocent lives.”
In New York, Sir Anthony Parsons informs Pérez de Cuéllar that the British Government are disappointed, though not surprised, by the terms of the Argentine response to the 5-point plan that he had put to the two sides.
At the informal Security Council meeting called by its new President, the Secretary-General reports that he has been unable to negotiate mutually acceptable terms for a ceasefire but; “ .. affirms his readiness to remain in close contact with the parties and to continue to exercise his good offices. The mandate he was given in SCR 505 thus remains in being…”
Panama calls for a formal meeting and the Security Council reconvenes. Spain and Panama immediately co-sponsor a draft-Resolution for the Council’s consideration; calling for an unconditional ceasefire.
“Ros spoke at length. The negotiations with the Secretary-General had shown that the UK did not intend at any time to heed the Council’s appeals. Its only objective was to continue its aggression, with the intention of installing in the islands a military system as part of its plan to dominate the South Atlantic. The wishes of the Islanders were simply a mask. .. Argentina, on the other hand, had replied promptly and positively to the Secretary-General’s efforts under SCR 505. .. The intransigence of the United Kingdom was evident. …”
After Brazil has called for an immediate cease-fire, Sir Anthony Parsons is the next to speak; “I pay tribute once again to the Secretary-General for the efforts he has made during the past few days to implement Resolution 502 and 505. … I have said before, but it cannot be repeated too often, that the current breach of the peace was caused by Argentina. It was Argentina which closed the diplomatic channels on 1 April. It was Argentina which remained silent in the face of the Security Council’s appeal not to use force .. It was Argentina .. which invaded the Falkland Islands… It was, and is, Argentina which has failed to comply with Resolution 502 which demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Argentine troops. .. It is the United Kingdom which was the victim of the Argentine act of aggression…. Everything we have done since has been in exercise of our inherent right to self-defence. .. The plain fact is, Mr. President, that until the Government of Argentina changes its position it is clear that the conditions for a cease-fire do not exist. Against this background the call by the distinguished representatives of Spain and Panama for an unconditional cease-fire is not acceptable to my delegation. A cease-fire which is not inseparably linked to an immediate Argentine withdrawal would not be consistent with Resolution 502.. When we talk about security arrangements for the future, we are talking about security arrangements to shield the Islanders against any threat of renewed aggression – that is all.”
Spain presses the Council for an immediate vote but the meeting is adjourned until the 3rd so that delegates can obtain instructions from their Governments.
Parsons advises London; “Spain and Panama will press hard tomorrow morning for an immediate vote on their draft Resolution. They can count on six affirmative votes (China, USSR, Poland, Spain, Ireland, Panama). I think we can count on five negative votes or abstentions (France, UK, US, Guyana, Japan). Spain/Panama therefore have to get three out of the following four in order to get the necessary nine votes to turn our negative vote into a veto: Jordan, Togo, Uganda, Zaire… I recommend that the most urgent lobbying should now be carried out ..”
June 3rd – Canada’s Ambassador to Buenos Aires is asked to leave the country following supposedly ‘pro-British’ remarks he has made while Argentina recalls its own Ambassador to France. In New Zealand, a business man and his wife contribute $NZ 1,000 for a supply of Dunbar Whisky to be sent to the troops in the Falklands, for; “immediate consumption.”
At the Falklands, HMS Plymouth bombards Argentine positions at Port Howard. Two Harriers are lost following attacks on other Argentine military installations, although the pilots are recovered safely.
Secretary Haig sends an instruction to Jeanne Kirkpatrick in New York directing the Ambassador to work closely with Sir Anthony Parsons to see if the proposed Resolution can be made to work. If this is not possible, Kirkpatrick is instructed to join the UK in a veto. The French Ambassador is also instructed by his Government to stay in close contact with Sir Anthony Parsons. Japan confirms that its Ambassador will abstain.
Short of fuel, a Vulcan bomber is diverted to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where the aircraft is held at a military airport, and its missile removed by the Brazilian authorities.
Costa Mendez, at a meeting of the NAM, makes a speech in which he associates Argentina with Algeria, India, Cuba and Vietnam who had also needed to fight for their freedom. In a similar vein, he also talks of the South African peoples fight against apartheid. His speech is greeted with laughter by some African representatives who recall that Argentina has never previously supported their efforts against the Government of South Africa. “Costa Mendez’s reference to Britain having expelled original inhabitants of Falklands does not seem to have misled most delegates.”
At the UN, deliberations continue over the Spanish/Panamanian draft Resolution; “… Spain and Panama failed to line up nine votes for the draft Resolution .. The Americans, and to a lesser extent the French, made frenzied efforts to avoid a vote today, lest they had to veto with us. (Spain) finally agreed .. to postpone a vote until 2000z tomorrow (4 June). .. It was clear at the start of play today that we had six negative votes or abstentions (France, Guyana, Japan, Jordan, UK, US). .. Guyana pressed hard, with some support from Jordan, for major changes to the draft in order to make the cease-fire conditional upon the commencement of Argentine withdrawal. Panama was not prepared to accept these amendments. .. This led Panama to propose a new operative paragraph which would have asked the parties to implement immediately SCR’s 502 and 505 in all their parts. This was acceptable to the Africans and Panama undertook to sell it to Spain.”
Panama’s suggested amendment is debated. Parsons asks for time to seek instructions but says that he would expect further, and substantial, amendments to be suggested by London; “ De Pinies (Spain) said that there was no question of the Argentines and the Panamanians accepting the kind of amendments I was talking about. He saw no alternative to voting straight away. This led to frenzied efforts by the Americans to persuade the Argentines to discourage de Pinies from pressing for a vote (I dread to think what promises were made..). At the same time it became clear that both Zaire and Togo, in spite of their positions in the morning, were inclined to abstain on the revised draft. So de Pinies still had not got his nine votes and American and French efforts to postpone the vote met with success…”
The revised draft reads: “Reaffirming its Resolutions 502 (1982) and 505 (1982) and the need for implementation of all the parts thereof, (1) Requests the parties to the dispute to cease-fire immediately in the region of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), (2) Requests the parties to initiate, simultaneously with the cease-fire, the implementation of Resolutions 502 (1982) and 505 (1982) in their entirety, (3) Authorizes the Secretary-General to use such means as he may deem necessary to verify the cease-fire, (4) Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on compliance with this Resolution within 72 hours.”
A vote is deferred until the 4th.
Parsons reports; “.. I believe that our best tactic is firmly to put forward all the amendments we need to make the latest draft acceptable to us, .. Spain, Panama and the Argentine friends will explode, and may insist on an immediate vote on a text designed to leave us in maximum isolation.
If they succeed, we will have to face its something we always anticipated, in the not unsatisfactory knowledge that we have now held out for over 60 days.”
June 4th – prior to a G8 summit meeting at Versailles, Margaret Thatcher meets Ronald Reagan at the US Embassy in Paris to tell him that the only proposal that Britain is willing to accept is a ceasefire, irrevocably linked to Argentine withdrawal within 14 days.
In the reconvened Security Council meeting, Parsons tells Spain and Panama that he will not be proposing any amendments to their draft Resolution; “.. in that case, there was no alternative to voting… There followed a delay of about two hours while both sides counted heads, and Mrs. Kirkpatrick made several efforts to persuade Haig in Versailles to switch .. to abstention. With abstentions assured from Guyana, Japan, Jordan and Togo, and probably from Zaire, it looked as though De Pinies would not be able to get his nine votes. But, at the last minute, my Japanese colleague, to his obvious chagrin, received instructions from Versailles to switch from an abstention to a vote in favour. He took with him Zaire, and nearly Jordan as well. ..”
Ambassador Henderson in Washington receives a message; “Stoessel then telephoned me back, after the meeting was well under way in New York, to say that Haig had now considered the problem and had decided that, given that no effort had been made to improve the draft, it was no longer appropriate for the United States to vote against it. He had therefore given instructions that Mrs Kirkpatrick should abstain. … Stoessel had the grace to be extremely embarrassed…”
Put to a vote, the Panamanian/Spanish draft-Resolution fails on being vetoed by two of the permanent members, the UK and the USA.
“France, which abstained, considered it understandable that one of the parties to the conflict felt it essential to obtain certain safeguards against continued non-compliance with the 3 April resolution; consensus should have been reached regarding its effective implementation. Similarly, Guyana abstained, saying that, while Argentine non-compliance with the 3 April resolution was both the cause and consequence of the current level of armed hostilities in the South Atlantic, the text failed to make an explicit link between a ceasefire and withdrawal of Argentine forces within a clearly defined time-frame.
Japan supported the resolution with the understanding that Argentina would withdraw its forces within a reasonable period of time. Panama said the British veto had deprived the Security Council of a new chance to demonstrate its effectiveness, and had put that body back into a state of absolute impotence. Spain said the non-adoption of what it considered to be a highly balanced text represented a failure for peace. Ireland and Uganda felt the text clearly linked full implementation of the previous resolutions with the call for a cease-fire. Zaire supported the text as it called for the implementation of the previous Council resolutions. China also voted in favour, saying the Council should call for an unconditional cease-fire, resumption of negotiations and, at the same time, extend the Secretary-General’s mandate…”
In explanation of the UK veto, Sir Anthony Parsons tells the Council; “The situation facing the Council this afternoon is straight forward. If Argentina had not invaded the Falkland Islands at the beginning of April there would be no crisis and we would not be meeting today. If Argentina had obeyed the mandatory demand in SCR 502 immediately to withdraw all its forces from the Falkland Islands, the crisis would have passed and we would not be meeting today. But Argentina did invade the Islands, and defied the mandatory demand of the Council to withdraw…. there is no direct and inseparable link between the ceasefire and immediate Argentine withdrawal with a fixed time limit. The wording of the draft, without any shadow of a doubt, enables Argentina to reopen the endless process of negotiation, thus leaving Argentine armed forces in illegal occupation of parts of the Islands. This is totally unacceptable to my Government.”
Parsons reports from the meeting; “… The Resolution secured nine votes only because of a last minute switch by Japan. After the vote, Mrs. Kirkpatrick astonishingly stated that she had been asked by her Government to say that if it were possible to change a vote once cast, the United States would like to change its vote from a veto to an abstention.”
Sir Anthony Parsons rounds the day’s events off; “It was a very close run thing. Had it not been for the last minute Japanese switch (for which my Japanese colleague was bitterly ashamed) the Resolution would have failed for lack of votes. I confess that, with the amendments, I expected it to do better. If anyone had told me on 9 April, when we notified to the Security Council the establishment of the EZ (exclusion zone), that we would last out until 4 June without having to veto a cease-fire Resolution and that the eventual Resolution would only scrape 9 votes, I would not have believed it. I think we owe this not unsatisfactory result to a number of factors. First, basic sympathy for our position amongst NAM members .. Argentine unpopularity, de Pinies’ bullying methods: and powerful lobbying both here and in capitals. Another unexpected bonus was Mrs Kirkpatrick’s truly grotesque intervention when she last received instructions from Haig to abstain having cast a negative vote. .. Her performance has already excited much more media attention than out veto.
The important thing now is that we firmly kill any suggestion that we are isolated in the UN. .. The fact is that we are not. The Latins got a poor result for what looked like a reasonable Resolution to many people, and I have already received numerous expressions of sympathy and support from third world delegations from Africa and Asia. It is difficult to see what the UN will now do. There has been very little talk about an emergency special session of the General Assembly and there would definitely not have been nine votes for such a proposition had it been tabled tonight… We owe a great deal to David Karran, the charge d’affairs of Guyana, who has been a tower of strength and helpfulness throughout..”
Brazil’s refusal to release the detained Vulcan is the basis of a protest; “This prevarication is, I fear, typical of Brazilian spinelessness and exemplifies their acute anxiety not to offend the Argentines unless they feel they have no alternative..”
June 5th – at the G8 meeting in Versailles, Margaret Thatcher is given the day’s military situation report; “Sea: Sir Galahad is unloading at Teal Inlet. Andromeda, Penelope, Blue Rover and Sir Geraint to San Carlos early 5 June. The carrier battle group remains to the east of the TEZ. Naval gunfire support operations to be carried out tonight by Cardiff and Active on the Port Stanley area. Glasgow and Argonaut have been released from Op. Corporate due to extensive damage from earlier actions. ..
Land: 3 Para remain in area of NW Mount Longdon. 45 CDO are moving from Teal Inlet to the area of Smoko Mountain. 2 Para are at Bluff Cove with 1/7 Gurkha Rifles moving forward from Goose Green to join. 2 Scots Guards and 1 Welsh Guards are moving to Bluff Cove area by the night of 5/6 June. It is intended that two CDO attacks will be made on Two Sisters Mountain within next 48 hours.
Air: Weather conditions continue to be poor. Fog has severely limited all air operations. There are no reports of Argentine air activity. The deployment ashore of GR3/Sea Harrier aircraft is not yet confirmed but the forward operating base is ready for them.
HMS Hydra takes 51 British casualties to Montevideo while ARA Bahia Paraiso embarks Argentine wounded from HMS Uganda. Argentina demands that Uruguay intern the wounded under the articles of the Geneva Conventions. Uruguay refuses. Argentina also formally requests that Brazil intern the Vulcan bomber under the terms of the Rio Treaty.
In New York, a plea from Pérez de Cuéllar for Margaret Thatcher is delivered to Parsons; “The armed conflict in the region of the Falkland islands threatens to enter into a new and extremely dangerous phase that is likely to result in heavy loss of life on both sides. This would gravely prejudice, for the foreseeable future, any prospect for a settlement of the underlying dispute… I feel it is my duty in this situation, in pursuance of the mandate entrusted to me by the Security Council, to appeal directly to Your Excellency and to President Galtieri, in the hope that a way can still be found to bring the fighting to a halt and to initiate negotiations towards a settlement of the crisis…”
The Secretary-General includes a 7 point plan based on those proposals that have been considered before – although there is no mention of Britain’s withdrawal having to be ‘total.’
Parsons comments; “I believe that this is another genuine last minute attempt by Pérez de Cuéllar to try to bring about Argentine withdrawal without further bloodshed. Obviously it has come too late ..”
In Brasilia, Britain presents a bout de papier condemning the Brazilian decision to retain the Vulcan bomber; threatening “serious consequences” for continuing friendly relations between the two countries.
A meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement deplores the military operations being carried out by the UK with US support and reaffirms; “ solidarity with Argentina in its efforts to end an outdated colonial presence.”
“The Latin Americans had taken the whole place over in a big way on the Falklands, with Castro acting as impresario for Costa Mendez. He frankly admitted that Britain’s friends had been swept away by the torrent of Latin American rhetoric, pressure and theatricality. All under the TV cameras. He had attended many NAM meetings over the years but had never heard anything like the violence of Costa Mendez’s rhetoric. Pretty well every Latin American under the sun had spoken on similar lines. Almost all the vitriol had been directed against Britain, with the United States as a footnote … Costa Mendez had received a long standing ovation with Castro capering in the public gallery ..”
June 6th – Scots Guards land at Fitzroy, bringing the troops now on East Falkland to some 8,000 strong. MV Norland sails towards Montevideo with 1400 Argentine prisoners as HMS Hydra arrives in Montevideo with 50 British walking wounded.
Sir Anthony Parsons is instructed to inform the Secretary-General that his proposals are “unacceptable.”
“I saw the Secretary-General at 2300z this evening, ie one hour before his deadline. He had not by then heard from the Argentines… I said that you (Pym) and the Prime Minister had studied the Secretary-General’s message very carefully… But for the immediate future you had a single objective, namely to bring about Argentine withdrawal by one way or another and as quickly as possible. The military situation on the ground was now too complex to make it practicable for a third party to intervene. You could not at this stage accept an integrated package involving many other aspects of the crisis. Nor at this stage could you commit yourselves to any proposition about the reduction of UK forces or about long term security arrangements under the UN’s or anyone else’s auspices. These were matters that would have to be worked out after we had repossessed the Islands. I went on to say that we had become disillusioned by the course of negotiations during the last two months. ..
Most recently our complete lack of confidence in the Argentines had been compounded by the Non-Aligned communique which had just been drafted in Havana. This had been an Argentine text. It showed absolutely no disposition on Argentina’s part to compromise. .. Against this background you were not prepared to take another chance which would involve the risk of re-involving ourselves in interminable negotiations. We had reached the point where the only practicable way of bringing about a cease-fire and Argentine withdrawal was through direct negotiations between the military commanders on the spot. It was clear that none of this came as any surprise to the Secretary-General. … De Soto has since told me that the Argentine response was negative, he would not reveal the details ..”
The mood amongst American officials, including Jeanne Kirkpatrick, is described as “glum.”
June 7th – Argentine positions near Stanley are bombarded while Gurkha patrols mop up pockets of resistance behind British lines.
In a letter to Taoiseach Charles Haughey, the Irish Exporters Association inform their Government that the policy of opposition to EU trade sanctions against Argentina had caused a severe trade backlash in the UK.
President Reagan visits Britain, while the Pope visits Argentina. Following Zaire’s support for the vetoed Security Council Resolution, a decision is made in London not to finance military equipment for the Zairean contingent in Chad, amongst other punitive actions.
On the Falklands, a night-time bombardment by HMS Active and HMS Ambuscade targets Argentine positions near Fitzroy.
June 8th – President Reagan addresses both Houses of Parliament; “ … On distant islands in the South Atlantic young men are fighting for Britain. And, yes, voices have been raised protesting their sacrifice for lumps of rock and earth so far away. But those young men aren’t fighting for mere real estate. They fight for a cause — for the belief that armed aggression must not be allowed to succeed, and the people must participate in the decisions of government — [applause] — the decisions of government under the rule of law. If there had been firmer support for that principle some 45 years ago, perhaps our generation wouldn’t have suffered the bloodletting of World War II.”
An article in the French newspaper Le Monde declares that President Mitterrand does not endorse the British claim to sovereignty and that while France agrees that international law must be upheld, Britain should negotiate with Argentina for a new status for the Falklands which would be fair for both sides.
After overnight shelling of Argentine positions by HMS Active and HMS Ambuscade, the Ministry of Defence issue a press release; “Elements of 5 Brigade are now firmly established at Fitzroy Settlement and Bluff Cove.”
HMS Plymouth is attacked by Dagger fighter bombers and hit by 4 bombs, none of which explode. RFA Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram are hit by 500lb bombs launched from A4 Skyhawks. Both ships are abandoned. 3 Argentine Skyhawk aircraft are shot down by 2 Sea Harriers as they attack landing craft near Fitzroy.
A crude oil tanker, Hercules, owned by a Liberian corporation is attacked and bombed by Argentine aircraft 600 nautical miles from Argentina and more than 500 from the Falklands. After failing to defuse an unexploded bomb, the vessel is scuttled by its crew. The hospital ship, HMS Hydra, sails from Montevideo to assist.
4 Argentine Mirage aircraft are shot down by two Sea Harriers. 3 other Argentine aircraft are also reported to be down.
June 9th – in an interview with NBC, Prime Minister Thatcher is asked about the chances of a political settlement. She responds; “We’ve been trying for a political negotiated settlement for 8 weeks. For 8 weeks the Argentines could have withdrawn at any time. They haven’t withdrawn. It is now beyond a negotiated settlement.”
French President Mitterand, at a press conference, says that although he felt solidarity with Britain; “This war must not turn into a war of revenge. There are limits to this conflict which I fully intend to make known at the right time, which will not be long.”
Michael Foot, leader of the main opposition party in Parliament, the Labour Party, writes to the Prime Minister; “ .. All the indications from the Argentines are that, so long as their only alternative is unconditional surrender to a British ultimatum, they will persist in defending Port Stanley and other points on the Islands. This may well lead to heavy casualties. Both for Britain’s good name, and for the sake of the servicemen on both sides who may be killed and wounded. Is it not worth giving the Argentines an undertaking that discussions will reopen as soon as they complete their withdrawal?”
Foreign Secretary Pym instructs Ambassadors and missions around the world; “Please deliver as soon as possible the following message from me to the Foreign Minister of the country to which you are accredited. Quote. – I am very concerned to ensure that, once Argentine forces have been obliged to leave the Falklands, all military action by Argentina against us in the South Atlantic must stop. We want the next period to be one of rehabilitation and reconstruction and not one of continuing bitterness and hostility. I hope that this would also be the Argentine mood, and presumably they will be concerned for the return of their prisoners of war…. We do not want a situation where we have regained the Falkland Islands but Argentina refuses to give up the fighting against us. There may be a need to maintain economic measures until Argentina agrees to cease all hostilities in the South Atlantic. The embargo on arms supplies might remain rather longer, so that we can be sure that Argentina has finally abandoned her aggressive intentions.”
HMS Yarmouth bombards the Moody Brooks area. Newspapers in Buenos Aires headline a, “serious British setback at Fitzroy Settlement,” and talk of many, “British losses in landing attempt.” La Nacion claims that a frigate has been sunk and three other Royal Navy vessels, “destroyed.”
In the Madrid daily, Ya, President Galtieri is quoted as saying; “Argentina will not accept a return to the status of 1 April in the Malvinas.. but is willing to withdraw her forces at the same pace as the British, leaving a UN Administrator to govern the Islands.” La Nacion quotes Galtieri as saying that Argentina; “is prepared to continue the war for as many months and years as necessary.”
June 10th – Defence Secretary John Nott speaks to Parliament; “Since I reported to the House on 26 May British forces have moved forward to positions surrounding Port Stanley and are in firm control of high ground on an arc surrounding the town.”
In the Falklands, HMS Yarmouth‘s bombardment continues while Peru supplies 10 Mirage jets to Argentina. The Vulcan bomber detained by Brazil is allowed to leave on an undertaking that it will take no further part in “warlike operations” but the missile removed from the aircraft remains in Brazil.
At the UN, de Cuéllar makes it known that he is thinking of asking the Pope to intervene with President Galtieri in an attempt to persuade the Argentines to accept his last proposals. Sir Anthony Parsons dissuades him.
June 11th – in Paris, the French Foreign Ministry suggests that it might be possible for the British to come to an arrangement with the Argentines without driving them off the last square metre of the Islands. The French argue that relations between Europe and Latin America could be poisoned for years if Britain does not seize the right moment to begin working towards a solution.
Three Islanders are killed in the naval bombardment of Stanley.
The battle for Port Stanley commences. Argentine positions to the west of Stanley are attacked as is the military command post inside Stanley police station. RAF Harriers bomb Argentine positions at Two Sisters, Mount Harriet, Mount Longdon, Mount Tumbledown and Moody Brook Barracks.
A member of Pérez de Cuéllar’s staff flies to Buenos Aires with a mission to contact the Cardinal accompanying the Pope in order to give him a full briefing of the Secretary-General’s proposals of 5 June. Parsons reports; “This is tiresome. It is naive to suggest that De Soto will not be in contact with Ros in Buenos Aires and if his mission becomes public it will arouse expectations…”
In Lima, the Peruvian Foreign Minister, Dr. Arias, tells the British Ambassador that Costa Mendez had telephoned him to say that the Argentines would withdraw if only, “some suitable formula could be found.”
The Pope arrives in Buenos Aires. He is met by crowds shouting; “Holy Father bless our just war.”
June 12th – The Times newspaper publishes an interview with President Galtieri; conducted by the Italian journalist , Oriana Fallaci:
Fallaci: “ .. the islands are practically back in the hands of the British ..”
Galtieri: “ No, madam journalist. The Malvinas are not back in the hands of the British. The British have still to capture them, and the result of the battle which is going to take place at Puerto Argentino is not so sure as you expect. I am much more optimistic than you. However, even if Puerto Argentino should fall as you say, I should not ask myself “was it worth while,” even less would I think I had made a mistake. … Listen to me, madam journalist, not even the fall of Puerto Argentino would be the end of this conflict and our defeat… In fact I am not alone in believing that what we did on the second of April was right. The whole Argentine people believe it. Madam journalist, for 149 years the Argentines have denounced the aggression by the British .., and for 17 years they have tried to settle the problem through diplomatic channels, through the United Nations…. The British colonisation could not last any longer.”
Fallaci: “But why do you say colonisation? ..Whom did the British colonise in this case – the penguins?”
Galtieri: “They are all British because the British never permitted the Argentines to buy a piece of land there, to start a business, some kind of commerce or presence. .. The British .. kept these islands as a personal farm, and did not let any Argentine settle down.”
Fallaci: “.. you are a coloniser too, Mr. President..”
Galtieri: “ .. let’s not go back that far in the past. Let’s look at things as they are since the British stole the Malvinas from us. Let’s observe where these islands are situated, how the under-water terrain extends itself in that area and connects with the islands. One can easily see the natural correlation existing between them and the terra firma. Not only historically, but geographically, the Malvinas belong to us…”
Fallaci: “ But apart from that underwater terrain, what is it that appeals to you so much in those ugly islands? ..”
Galtieri: “You should ask Mrs. Thatcher, who is dealing death to us and to her people because of these islands, and because of these islands has lost half her fleet. Go ask her.”
Fallaci: “ Now I am asking you.”
Galtieri: “Madam journalist, its the sentiment… the sentiment of the Argentine nation since 1833.”
Fallaci: “.. should I say illusions? To begin with the illusion that Great Britain would not react..”
Galtieri: “No, I’ll tell you that though an English reaction was considered a possibility, we did not see it as a probability. Personally I judged it scarcely possible and totally improbable. In any case, I never expected such a disproportionate answer. Nobody did. … It seems senseless to me.”
Fallaci: “Haig claims that the fault is yours because he did not know with whom to deal .. Even on the 502 Resolution, the one that asked the Argentines to withdraw, he claims you and your generals had different views..”
Galtieri: “ .. the 502 Resolution contained a series of consequences that we could not accept because Argentina had not shed on drop of English blood to take back the Malvinas and the British were attacking us ..”
Fallaci: “.. you said that the complete fall of the islands would not mean the end of the war…”
Galtieri: “… Argentina does not give up her rights on the Malvinas, on South Georgia, and on the South Sandwich Islands. It means that Argentine will never accept a return to where she was on the first of April. It means that we shall not have peace until we have obtained what we want.”
Fallaci: “ What is wrong with accepting, for example, the United Nations flag on those islands?”
Galtieri: “.. the United Nations flag is alright until the negotiations take place. But not after. Not in the future. The future must see the Argentine flag on the Malvinas. And it will.”
On the Falklands, the Argentine postal services issue a stamp celebrating the 153rd anniversary of Luis Vernet’s Civil and Military Command while Royal Marines are capturing Mount Harriet and Two Sisters. Sgt. Ian McKay is killed on Mount Longdon in an action for which he’ll be awarded a Victoria Cross.
Stanley airport is hit by 21 x 1000lb bombs from a British Vulcan bomber. HMS Glamorgan is struck by a shore based Exocet missile, killing 13 and causing extensive damage but not putting the vessel out of action.
In Buenos Aires, the Junta announces that British forces have attacked the hospital ship Bahia Paraiso – a claim denied by representatives of the ICRC who are aboard the vessel.
June 13th – battles for Tumbledown, Wireless Ridge and Mount William commence. One of 3 Argentine aircraft attacking British ships near Port Stanley is shot down. HMS Glamorgan fires 147 rounds at 6 targets in support of the assault on Two Sisters while HMS Avenger and HMS Yarmouth fire 200 shells at targets in Port Stanley and Port Howard.
“Phase 1 of the attack on Stanley began .. It involved a night move and silent attack supported by naval gunfire engaging targets further east. Initial surprise was achieved but there was stiff fighting as final objectives were taken. All units .. are firm on high features Mt. Longdon, Two Sisters and Mt. Harriet. First, unconfirmed, casualty figures are thought to be 19 killed and 80 wounded. 300 prisoners taken, …
Asked about the Falklands in a television interview, Alexander Haig says that; “the problem will ultimately have to be solved in the context of the traditional friendships between the US, UK and Latin America, and in a way which ensured stability and justice.”
June 14th – Scots Guard and Gurkha detachments capture Tumbledown and Mount William.
“During this action 1/7 Gurkha Rifles had as their objective Mount William. Believed to be held strongly by a Battalion of enemy which, by all accounts, faced with the panache and reputation of the Gurkhas appeared to have turned tail and fled … So no heads were cut off with kukris or anything messy like that… The mere presence of the Gurkhas actually helped to quicken the final stages and save casualties….”
2 Para enter the outskirts of Stanley. White flags are seen and a cease-fire is called.
SAS Commander Michael Rose, Royal Marines Capt. Rob Bell and a signaller fly to Stanley’s sports pitch for a meeting with Governor Menéndez; “I told Menéndez we did not want a bloodbath in Stanley, fighting building to building, and he would not want to be known as the ‘Butcher of Stanley.’”
Governor Menéndez manages to get a telephone call through to President Galtieri. Galtieri reminds his Governor that the Argentine military code calls for a commander to fight until he had lost 50% of his men, and 75% of his ammunition. Mendez replies, “ I cannot ask more of my troops, after what they have been through … We have not been able to hold on to the heights … We have no room, we have no support.”
“I had to repeat to him what our situation was, but he didn’t want to understand. Tactically, it was an unsustainable war. I ended the call. I thought, ‘This is the end.” I knew my troops couldn’t give any more.”
9pm: after 6 hours of negotiations, Menéndez agrees to surrender all his forces on both East and West Falkland.
As part of the agreement, the surrender ceremony is held in private; witnessed only by Capt. Hussey, Vicecomodoro Carlos Bloomer-Reeve for Argentina, and Capt. Bell, Lieut. Col. Geoff Field, Col. Brian Pennicott, Major General Jeremy Moore, Col. Reid and Col. Tom Seccombe for the UK.
At the point of signing Menéndez strikes out the word “unconditionally” in the first paragraph between “Islands” and “surrender.”
INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER
I, the undersigned, Commander of all the Argentine land, sea and air forces in the Falkland Islands surrender to Major General J.J. MOORE CB OBE MC* as representative of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government.
Under the terms of this surrender all Argentine personnel in the Falkland Islands are to muster at assembly points which will be nominated by General Moore and hand over their arms, ammunition, and all other weapons and warlike equipment as directed by General Moore or appropriate British officers acting on his behalf.
Following the surrender all personnel of the Argentinian Forces will be treated with honour in accordance with the conditions set out in the Geneva Convention of 1949. They will obey any directions concerning movement and in connection with accommodation.
This surrender is to be effective from 2359 hours ZULU on 14 June (2059 hours local) and includes those Argentine Forces presently deployed in and around Port Stanley, those others on East Falkland, (Menendez’s signature) West Falkland and all outlying islands.
In a telex message to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet General Moore reports: “In Port Stanley at 9pm Falkland Island time tonight, 14th June 1982, Major General Menéndez surrendered to me all the Argentine Armed Forces in East and West Falkland, together with their impedimenta. Arrangements are in hand to assemble the men for return to Argentina, to gather in their arms and equipment, and to mark and make safe their ammunition.
“The Falkland Islands are once more under the Government desired by their inhabitants.
God Save the Queen.”
Margaret Thatcher, makes a speech to the House of Commons; “… in Port Stanley, 74 days after the Falkland Islands were invaded, General Moore accepted from General Menendez the surrender of all the Argentine forces … General Menéndez has surrendered some 11,000 men in Port Stanley and some 2,000 in West Falkland. In addition, we had already captured and were holding elsewhere on the islands 1,800 prisoners, making in all some 15,000 prisoners of war now in our hands.… We have today sent to the Argentine Government, through the Swiss Government, a message seeking confirmation that Argentina, like Britain, considers all hostilities between us in the South Atlantic—and not only on the Islands themselves—to be at an end. It is important that this should be established with clarity and without delay.”
She also confirms that the Governor, Rex Hunt, will return to the Falklands as soon as is practicable.
In New York, Sir Anthony Parsons informs Pérez de Cuéllar; “I saw the Secretary-General .. we have told the press that the meeting took place at my initiative: and I wished to inform the Secretary-General of the statement which the Prime Minister had made shortly beforehand in the House of Commons…. We have said nothing to encourage the speculation about a future role for the United Nations…”
Messages of congratulation for Britain’s success pour in from foreign nations; among them Sri Lanka, a long-standing member of the UN’s Special Committee, and supporter of self-determination.Television footage shows Margaret Thatcher shaking hands with members of the public amongst a cheering crowd in Whitehall.
In a communique addressed to the UN, Argentina states; “ … that the United Kingdom had broken its defences in a pre-dawn attack with the aid of high-technology weapons, including infra-red equipment for night viewing, portable missile-launchers and laser aiming systems; that consequently the Malvinas had been transformed into a test site for these weapons, many of which were unknown even on the international arms market;..”
June 15th – a press statement is released from the Falklands; “Hundreds of Argentine prisoners on the Falkland islands could die from malnutrition, hypothermia and disease unless Argentina declares an immediate end to all hostilities. Fifteen thousand Argentine troops who surrendered to British forces yesterday pose a problem of disaster relief proportions … This is a problem of the Argentines own making. It was foolish to put 15,000 troops out on a line where they could not be resupplied. They are already suffering from malnutrition, exposure (in some cases hypothermia), trench foot, scabies and diarrhoea, brought on by lack of food and pure water, proper clothing, shelter and sanitation…”
Communicating via the Swiss Embassy, Britain seeks confirmation that hostilities are now at an end; “Following the ceasefire in the Falkland Islands, there are a large number of Argentine personnel who will wish to return as soon as possible to their homes and families in Argentina. The British Government is prepared to start the process of repatriation as soon as possible, provided that they receive confirmation from the Argentine Government that there is now a total cessation of hostilities between the two countries and that Argentina is ready to accept the return of Argentine prisoners of war and others from the Falkland islands and dependencies direct to Argentine ports on British or other ships or aircraft. …”
Governments world-wide are requested to bring pressure to bear on Argentina in order that it accept a cessation of hostilities. In Washington, Ambassador Henderson speaks is informed; “The US Ambassador has been instructed to speak immediately to the Argentinians; the US Ambassador in Brasilia has been instructed to encourage the Brazilians also to advise the Argentinians to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities. It is not clear, however, whether the Junta is in any state to take decisions.”
In New York, faced with a similar instruction, Parsons responds; “ I do not wish to seem inhumane, but I am reluctant to involve the Secretary-General in this exercise. We would in effect be asking him to persuade the Argentines to accept a cessation of hostilities including the lifting of economic measures/exclusion zones so that their prisoners could be returned immediately. I believe that the Secretary-General and his staff would see this as a golden opportunity to get the UN into the act again… If we ourselves invoke the Secretary-General’s help and, having consulted the Argentines, he comes back with proposals for UN involvement ostensibly on humanitarian grounds, we could find ourselves in a difficult position. … We should stick to the ICRC as the correct agency for dealing with such situations.”
In Buenos Aires, Galtieri tells the Argentine people that the fighting at Port Stanley has ended; “Our soldiers made supreme efforts in fighting for the dignity of the Nation. Those who fell will always be alive in the hearts and great history of the Argentinians. … They fought against incomprehension, contempt and arrogance with more courage than arms. They faced up to the overwhelming superiority of a power supported by the military technology of the United States of America, which was surprisingly the enemy of Argentina and its people. They fought to remove from our soil the last vestige of colonialism. They fought for the very essence of our national and American identity, they fought for the same causes which prevailed over the glorious birth of our Fatherland. Our Nation has fought for its spiritual and material integrity, convinced that ever tolerated insults break the spirit of peoples and of men…. Puerto Argentino will not be the last step in the National endeavor which we began in 1833 and which we continued on 2nd April. …. The majority of States acknowledge the legitimacy of our claim to the Malvinas. What we are claiming belongs to us, will always be within our reach and sooner or later we will obtain it… ”
Plaza de Mayo is filled with crowds shouting; “Cowards!”. A small bomb goes off near the US Embassy.
A grouping of Argentine political parties calls for a return to democracy.
President Burnham of Guyana telephones PM Thatcher to offer his congratulations; and to express his hope that a lesson had been learnt.
In Buenos Aires, the official news agency Telam asserts that there is already a signed agreement for a withdrawal of Argentine forces, requiring – (1) the courage of Argentine troops to be recognised, (2) a joint Argentine-British Commission be set up for the transfer ceremony of the Island’s Administration, (3) Argentine troops remaining under the command of their officers, (4) British and Argentine troops jointly clearing minefields, (5) Argentine retention of their national flag, (6) the surrender ceremony be held in private, and (7) Argentine troops to withdraw in Argentine ships and aircraft.
In Mexico, Ambassador Tickell, is asked by the Deputy Foreign Minister about future negotiations over the Falklands; “I said that it was too early to think about negotiations with the Argentines. They had caused the loss of many lives, wasted vast resources and done enormous damage. We were more inclined to send them a bill than to join them in a cosy chat about the future.”
At the UN, Jeanne Kirkpatrick tells Pérez de Cuéllar that the Argentines and the British have reached agreement that there is to be no surrender ceremony; Argentine withdrawal will take place in implementation of SCR 502; all Argentine troops will withdraw with their weapons and equipment except POW’s taken before the final assault and, on this basis, Argentine aircraft will not carry out further attacks on the British Task Force.
Summoned by the Secretary-General who asks for clarification, Parsons denies the existence of such an agreement; “It is characteristic of Mrs Kirkpatrick that she should choose to act as a relay between Argentina and the Secretary-General. … I have no doubt that she is in touch with the Argentines, probably General Miret – it may represent the conditions that Argentina will try to put forward ..”
Parsons telegrams London; “ .. I should notify the Security Council of the Argentine surrender, having regard to our obligations under Article 51 of the Charter. We did this for South Georgia. At present, our prime objective must be to avoid any revival of activity by the Secretary-General or in the Security Council, whether at the behest of Argentina (through Panama) or of the do-gooders. I have therefore concluded that we should do nothing vis-a-vis the Council, at least until we know the Argentine reply ..”
June 16th – American Vice-President Bush, and Senator Percy, telephone Margaret Thatcher to offer their congratulations. The US Ambassador in London writes expressing his; “profound admiration.” Similar messages continue to arrive from around the world.
Britain, via the ICRC, proposes that one of its commandeered cruise liners be used to repatriate POW’s to Argentina via one of its South Atlantic ports. Argentina replies that it has no objections to the Canberra or the Norland repatriating its troops but only via Montevideo; “In the Junta’s view in no event could a British ship enter an Argentine port. .. The proposal by Great Britain was described as “cruel”…” Following a request by the British Ambassador, Chile’s Foreign Ministry responds that they are unable to assist in the repatriation of POW’s unless Argentina agrees; and that the Junta is maintaining that its existing route via Montevideo is sufficient.
Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, the Junta – via the Swiss Embassy – ask that; “ Argentine prisoners not be considered as prisoners of war because this would suggest capitulation and instead would like the evacuation of their troops to be considered as “withdrawal” linked with Security Council Resolution 502.”
Brazil’s Government issue a statement; “At this time Brazil cannot fail to express to the brother nation its solidarity and its conviction that just as the Argentine people has the right and the duty to feel pride in the patriotism and courage of its sons, so it will also, united and strengthened, overcome the difficulties of the moment … Since 1833 Argentina has never ceased to claim sovereignty over the Malvinas. Brazil has always recognised the just title to that claim. At all times, we favour and continue to favour a political and diplomatic solution for the issue, for we believe that controversy cannot be extinguished by force of arms…”
June 17th – a message is received in London; “The Argentine Government is ready to receive as soon as possible, the Argentine personnel who are now in the Malvinas Islands. For this purpose, it is understood that the procedure followed up to this moment since the beginning of the conflict should continue to be applied … Any attempt to impose unilaterally other conditions of a political character aside from humanitarian purposes is unacceptable to the Argentine Government. Otherwise, the British Government will bear the responsibility for using the fate of those thousands of people for political purposes.”
Francis Pym informs the Swiss; “We are deeply concerned that the condition of Argentine POWs on the Falkland Islands, and our efforts to repatriate them as soon as possible have been misunderstood (or in some cases misrepresented). …We have asked the Argentines to agree that we should repatriate these troops to Argentine ports and for this purpose need a guarantee of safe conduct for our ships. We are not unreasonable using the POW’s as a bargaining counter. The Argentines in response have said merely that the prisoners should be repatriated to Montevideo. .. If the prisoners are repatriated to an Argentine port.. the return journey .. will take 46 hours. For a journey as short as that we could load the Canberra with 5000 prisoners of war. .. to Montevideo the travel time would be considerably longer. Moreover, we cannot dock the Canberra alongside at Montevideo … the Argentine insistence upon Montevideo displays an incomprehensible lack of interest on their part in the well-being of their own people.”
General Galtieri resigns as President of Argentina.
HMS Endurance, HMS Yarmouth and MS Salvageman arrive off Argentina’s base on Southern Thule.
In Brasilia, O Globo claims that British policy is now to offer the “Kelpers” self-determination and independence. Suggesting its approval, the newspaper says that this is in line with the traditional British policy of decolonisation and notes that Britain has fought an “ethical” war. An editorial in the Estado de SaoPaulo states that Britain, by defending a principle without which international life would become impossible, had done the international community an exemplary favour.
Advice is sent out to all Ambassadors with regard to the repatriation problem; “There remains widespread international confusion about the basic issues involved in our current problem of repatriating the Argentine POW’s and achieving an end to hostilities. This confusion is being worse confounded by deliberate Argentine misrepresentation of our position. Ministers should take every opportunity to set the record straight. (1) what we are demanding from Argentina now is a ceasefire and an end to hostilities: ie we want peace. We are not demanding a ‘Peace Settlement’, nor that they should explicitly renounce their sovereignty claims over the Falklands, nor that they should give up any long-term understandings. (2) We are not using the POW’s as hostages or as a bargaining counter to achieve this ceasefire… the Geneva Convention does not envisage a return of POW’s until a cessation of hostilities has been agreed. Premature return risks prisoners being recycled for war. (3) Despite this, we are prepared as a humanitarian act, to return the vast bulk of the Argentine POWs even in advance of a ceasefire providing only that we have a guarantee of safe passage. Reports from Port Stanley have shown that the Argentine prisoners were in very bad condition when captured and that local resources are quite inadequate to provide shelter and nourishment in the prevailing blizzard conditions. (4) Our evacuation plans are being dangerously frustrated by the Argentine refusal even to give safe-conduct for the ships on which we would propose to return their prisoners. We are prepared to send these to any port in Argentina or a neighbouring country where they may be safely delivered. But the closer the port to the Falklands the faster we can undertake the operation and therefore the more chance we have of avoiding even more sever hardship and even fatalities among the POWs. (5) The Argentine Junta’s intransigence demonstrates their lack of regard for the safety and well-being of their own troops: they appear to be using POWs as an expendable factor in their own efforts to avoid political embarrassment.”
Argentina complains to the Security Council; “ .. regard to the scientific station ‘Corbeta Uruguay’, which the Argentine Republic set up in March 1977 on Morell Island (Southern Thule), in the South Sandwich group. Previous work on this station had begun at the end of 1976…. It should also be noted that, before the construction of the scientific station, no permanent installation like ‘Corbeta Urugay’ had been built on the South Sandwich Islands and that consequently there was no permanent settlement on the islands up to that point. .. We have now been informed that the British warship Endurance has informed the personnel of the Station that they should abandon it and give themselves up as prisoners, otherwise the ship will open fire…”
Parsons’ comments; “The letter is remarkable for not asserting Argentine sovereignty.”
June 18th – President Reagan writes to Prime Minister Thatcher; “Let me extend my congratulations on the success of British arms in the South Atlantic. Your victory was both a brilliant military feat and a defence of our shared principle that disputes are not to be resolved by aggression. The minimum loss of life and the generous terms of withdrawal were also in the finest British tradition. A just war requires a just peace. We look forward to consulting with you and to assisting in building such a peace. It must of course take into account the sacrifices of your men in battle. Its elements in my judgment must include enhancement of the long-term security of the South Atlantic, mitigation of Argentine hostility and improvement in the relations of both our countries with Latin America.”
In Buenos Aires, the Junta declare that; “It is absolutely forbidden for any British ship to dock in Argentine continental territory…. Argentina will not accept any British proposal for a ceasefire as long as there is no mention of the possibility of being able to reopen the discussion on sovereignty.”
At the UN, Argentina alleges that Britain is refusing to implement paragraphs 1 and 3 of SCR 502; ”Argentina comes back again today to the Security Council to establish clearly, as it has on previous occasions, its full readiness to implement Resolutions 502 and 505. My Country hopes at the same time that the Council will pursue its efforts to get the United Kingdom to implement those Resolutions in full. .. There exists de facto in present circumstances, a cessation of hostilities which Argentina is observing. But this cessation of hostilities will be precarious as long as the British attitude, as shown by the military occupation, the blockade and the economic aggression, continue. The complete cessation of hostilities will only be achieved when the United Kingdom lifts its sea and air blockade and the economic sanctions already referred to and when it withdraws its military occupation forces on the Islands, the naval Task Force and the nuclear submarines which it has deployed in the waters of the region. Argentina indicates once again that only a negotiation conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with the relevant Resolutions, for which Argentina has always been ready, can lead to a definitive solution of the dispute, removing the situation of illegal colonial domination, sustained by force and which in itself constitutes a permanent threat to peace.”
Sir Anthony Parsons, aware that there are moves to initiate negotiations, tells the Secretary-General that it is; “ .. absolutely and totally out of the question that we should sit down to diplomatic negotiations with the Argentines through any third party in order to discuss the future of the Islands or anything else. .. It was no good talking of exchanging a full cessation of hostilities for an opening of diplomatic negotiations. If we could not get an unconditional cessation of hostilities out of Argentina, we would have to live with that. .. What we now needed was a long cooling off period with no outside interference while we restored normal life to the Islands.”
Parsons reports to London; “I told Urquhart afterwards of the .. conversation. He said that he was glad I had spoken as I had. He had been present at all Pérez de Cuéllar’s recent meetings. A number of visitors, including Reagan/Haig, Schmidt (rather offensively to us), and Trudeau had been wringing their hands about the need to heal the breach between the West and Latin America and about the need for the British to show flexibility etc. Pérez de Cuéllar had told each of them that, in his judgment, the Argentines had been in the wrong from the start, that they had been vastly mistaken not to accept our offer of 17 May “which involved major concessions which he knew we had been reluctant to make,” that Argentina had wrecked his negotiations, thus leaving us no choice but to repossess the Islands by force.”
From Geneva, the ICRC passes a message on to London saying that Argentina has now agreed to the repatriation of POWs through Puerto Madryn.
Henderson in Washington telegrams the FCO; “Eagleburger has told me about a proposition which was put to Haig this morning by the Secretary-General in New York. This was that since paragraphs 1 and 2 of SCR 502 had now in practice been fulfilled, the way was open for HMG and the Argentines to negotiate a diplomatic solution under para 3. … I said that there was no future in the Secretary-General trying to pursue this thought. Things had changed fundamentally since the Resolution was passed.”
June 19th – Argentina’s charge d’affaires at the UN, Arnoldo Listre, presents a note to the Council; “… After vetoing the draft Resolution ordering the cease-fire which was voted by the majority of the Council on 4 June 1982, the United Kingdom … has continued its armed aggression against my country and has completed the military occupation of Puerto Argentino, the capital of the Malvinas, on 14 June. … Throughout the developments which led to this situation the United Kingdom … ignored the demand for an immediate cease-fire contained in Security Council Resolution 502 (1982) of 3 April 1982 and also the exhortation of the Council contained in paragraph 3 of that Resolution to the Governments concerned to seek a peaceful solution of the dispute by means of negotiations. … Argentina cannot and will not accept the situation of force which Great Britain has thus sought to impose. Today, it is clearer than ever that the United Kingdom’s aim is to ensure by any means the continuation of a situation of colonial domination in the South Atlantic, in open violation of the Charter of the United Nations. …”
Sir Anthony Parsons reports; “ It looks as though Costa Mendez’s propaganda machine is making the most of the Argentine note… Officials said that the note had been approved by the ruling three man Junta, including General Nicolaides. Senior military officers said that it was the resignation of Galtieri that opened the way for the note. Foreign Ministry officials favoured a resumption of the Secretary-General’s mission because he seemed fair and well-versed in the issues. Argentina would continue to seek sovereignty over the Falklands…. Pérez de Cuéllar and I looked … but thought it did not amount to a serious offer of an immediate cessation of hostilities…”
June 20th – British troops reoccupy the South Sandwich Islands in Operation Keyhole. No shots are fired. Argentina’s representative at the UN submits a further note to the Security Council regarding Southern Thule; “This action constitutes a clear violation of the cessation of hostilities existing under the terms of my note No. 172 of 18th June and also constitutes a new act of aggression committed by the United Kingdom, in violation of Security Council Resolution 502 (1982).”
London announces a 150 mile radius Falkland Islands Protection Zone (FIPZ), with its center in Falklands Sound. Economic sanctions imposed by the EC are lifted, although its arms embargo is maintained.
June 23rd – now in New York, Margaret Thatcher visits de Cuéllar at the UN. Pérez de Cuéllar reminds her that he still has a mandate from the Security Council, but realises that there is not very much to be done at the present. Thatcher appraises de Cuéllar of the problems being addressed on the Islands including unmarked plastic mines. She tells him that Britain had repatriated about 10,000 POW’s, some in a poor condition, but would retain 600 – 700 technicians, pilots and senior officers pending an end to hostilities. As regards cessation of hostilities, lifting of exclusion zones, etc, the British Government had sent a message via the Swiss, but it was difficult to know who to deal with.
Parsons reports that there is no sign of the Security Council; “resuscitating the subject,” and tells the FCO that Uganda’s representative had made a comment asserting that; “the British people would lynch anyone who talked of negotiating with Argentina for at least a year.”
At the UN, PM Thatcher – in a special session on disarmament – says that; ”The fundamental risk to peace is not the existence of weapons of particular types, …It is the disposition on the part of some states to impose change on others by resorting to force.”
June 24th – the FCO Situation Report, issued by the Emergency Unit at 0700 every morning since April 2nd, simply states; “(1) There is nothing to report. (2) This is the last SITREP.”
June 25th – Governor Hunt arrives back in the Falkland Islands with instructions to carry out an urgent assessment of what is required to return some normality – both immediately and in the longer term.
Canada lifts economic sanctions against Argentina but maintains its arms ban while New Zealand announces that it is not prepared to normalise its relations with Argentina until the UK; “are satisfied that hostilities have ceased.”
Three British journalists seized in Ushuaia and charged with spying on April 17th, are ‘bailed’ in the sum of $20,000 each. Meanwhile, further enquires are initiated via the Swiss Embassy regarding the oft delayed repatriation of Flt. Lieut. Glover, captured on May 21st. The Argentine authorities are reminded that all their wounded have already been repatriated.
Argentina’s postal authorities issue a decree saying that any mail carrying the words ‘Falklands’ or ‘Port Stanley’, will be stamped; “RETURN TO SENDER – Postal communications have been interrupted in the Malvinas Islands, South Georgias and South Sandwich due to the illegitimate occupation by Great Britain of these Islands, which form part of the Argentine Republic and belong to its sovereignty.”
In Buenos Aires, the Junta announces that there will be a return to democratic rule early in 1984.
July 1st – General Reynaldo Bignone takes over officially as President of Argentina. “President Bignone’s inauguration speech on 1st July threw no new light either way on Argentina’s willingness to consider hostilities with the United Kingdom at an end.”
July 2nd – a message is sent to Bignone’s Adminsitration to the effect that the UK is willing to proceed with an exchange of prisoners on; “… the assumption that active hostilities were over.”
July 5th – Argentina’s Foreign Minister, in a speech, refers to a – “de facto cessation of hostilities.”
July 6th – Lord Franks is selected to head a commission of inquiry by Privy Councillors. “To review the way in which the responsibilities of Government in relation to the Falkland islands and their dependencies were discharged in the period leading up to the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, taking account of all such factors in previous years as are relevant; and to report.”
Pérez de Cuéllar receives a telephone call from Buenos Aires to say that they releasing Ft. Lieut. Glover.
July 7th – financial aid for the Falklands is agreed by the EC.
July 8th – at a further meeting of the War Cabinet; “There has still been no response to the message conveyed to them through the Swiss on 3rd July. The Swiss believe that a direct response in unlikely to be forthcoming for some considerable time, if ever.”
Flight Lt. Jeffrey Glover is repatriated to the UK via Montevideo.
July 12th – trade sanctions imposed on Argentina by the USA are ended.
July 19th – in Parliament; “… By ratification of Additional Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the United Kingdom has undertaken not to deploy nuclear weapons in territories, including their surrounding territorial waters and airspace, for which it is de jure or de facto internationally responsible, and which lie within the geographical zone established in the Treaty. This covers the Falkland Islands and the Falkland Islands dependencies. The Treaty is not in force in the south Atlantic outside these territorial limits because there are countries in the area to which the treaty applies which have not ratified it. I am aware of no infractions of the treaty.”
In Washington, Secretary Weinberger provides an initial assessment for President Reagan; “In the final analysis, the battle for the Falklands appears to have been a closer call than many would believe. The British won primarily because their forces, inferior in numbers at first, were superior in training, leadership and equipment. But luck played a significant role. The failure of the Argentine bombs is but one example; others exist. The British prevailed and pushed to victory just in time as they were critically low on artillery rounds and other supplies (8 rounds per barrel of artillery and no helicopter fuel) when they retook Stanley.”
July 22nd – the Total Exclusion Zone around the Islands is lifted.
July 23rd – in a letter to the President of the General Assembly, Argentina asserts that the principle of self-determination does not apply to the “occupying” population of the Falkland Islands; “ .. which had been established there through an act of force by the colonial Power and which consisted in many cases of transitory employees of the United Kingdom Government or of the British-based Falkland Islands Company.”
August 13th – in its response, the UK calls Argentina’s argument “tendentious” and points out; ” .. that historical evidence did not support Argentina’s contention that a settled Argentine population had been forcibly displaced by the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.”
The New York Times reports on events in Buenos Aires; “At least 1,000 people gathered in a downtown meeting hall to shout slogans condemning Argentina’s surrender to Britain in the Falkland Islands and demand the continuation of the war to regain the archipelago. Local news agencies said that between 1,000 and 2,000 people attended the Thursday night rally. One speaker, Gerardo Palacios Hardy, a journalist, told the crowd, ”For us, the war has not ended and we do not want peace but demand victory.” The rally was organized by a group called Militant Patriotism. The organization recently placed advertisements in Buenos Aires newspapers calling on the Government ”to continue the war effort in the propitious moments, forms and opportunities until the enemy is completely expelled from the South Atlantic.”
August 19th – two members of the Falkland Islands’ Legislative Assembly, John Cheek and Anthony Blake, go to New York to tell the SpecialCommittee that the Islanders’ wish to remain with Britain. At the UN, Venezuela, Cuba and Czechoslovakia try to stop the Islanders from speaking, claiming that they first had to be approved by a sub-committee – headed by Czechoslovakia.
The New York Times reports; “ .. the committee chairman, Frank O. Abdullah of Trinidad and Tobago, refused, suggesting that diplomats should listen to representatives of people whose territory was under examination. Bulgaria, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union grumbled, but nobody challenged Mr. Abdullah’s ruling. The islanders went ahead with their case.
”We believe passionately in the United Nations idea of self-determination,” Mr. Cheek said. ”We look to you to support us.” Mr. Blake described the islanders’ life until British troops forced the Argentine invaders off the islands. The Argentine authorities, he said, curbed free speech, interned people for listening to English-language broadcasts, jailed others arbitrarily, scattered mines without maps creating a danger that still imperiled islanders and ”smashed, soiled and looted” homes. He said the Argentines told the islanders that ”we had no right to determine our own future.” ‘These ideas seem to us preposterous and offensive,” he said.”
August 20th – the SpecialCommittee defer consideration of the Falklands until 1983.
In September – the UK Government eases financial sanctions against Argentina and Lord Shackleton publishes his updated Report. This notes the changes that have occurred between 1976 and 1982, and recommends a transfer of land ownership to the inhabitants. He also notes the advantages of a 200 mile limit and suggests that greater economic emphasis be placed on offshore fishing.
September 17th – questioned about the strength of the British title to the Falkland Islands, the Foreign Office responds; “ .. it would be misleading to attach any particular significance to what might appear to be shifts in the factors which at any particular time carried most weight in the Government’s thinking. Our case is based on all the facts and circumstances both before and after 1833. For example the right of self-determination, which is now an important part of our case, has emerged only relatively recently as a principle of international law.. With a subject as complicated as the history of the Falklands and the conclusions that may be drawn from that history for sovereignty, it is inevitable that there will be differing and, in some cases, conflicting views.”
September 23rd – Argentina complains to the UN of the “harassment” of fishing vessels by UK aircraft.
September 24th – at the UN, it is decided that interested parties can be heard by the Fourth Committee when it considers decolonization cases. This is carried by 41 votes to 33 with 24 abstentions. 17 Latin-American countries oppose the decision.
September 30th – the Falkland Islands compete in the Commonwealth Games for the first time.
November 2nd – at the UN, the Fourth Committee consider the questions relating to the decolonization of the Falklands Islands. Petitioners include Anthony Blake and John Cheek representing the Falkland’s Government (FIG); Alexander Jacob Betts, Susan Coutts de Maciello, Barbara Minto de Pennissi and Reynaldo Ernesto Reed – all former residents of the archipelago speaking on behalf of Argentina.
During the Committee’s deliberations, Argentina’s representative Juan Aquirre Lanari, claims that:
- Argentina succeeded to Spain’s historical right to the Islands,
- that the principle of ‘territorial integrity’ over-rides that of ‘self-determination’,
- that Uti possidetis de facto is ruled inapplicable by UN Resolution 1514, and that
- the UN had favoured the Argentine claim with Resolution 2065.
President Reagan writes to PM Thatcher about the US position at the UN regarding a new draft Resolution: “I fully understand that negotiations are not acceptable to you, having just paid so much in blood and treasure to repulse the Argentine invasion. We have no intention to press you – or to see you pressed – into negotiations before you are ready. Equally, we have no intention to take a position on the substance of the matter that is in any way prejudicial to your position on the questions of sovereignty and self-determination. Indeed Resolution 1514 contains stronger references to self-determination than it does to the principle the Argentines proclaim, “territorial integrity”. Margaret, my country has always supported you and always will in defeating any effort to solve the Falklands dispute by force. You know that we have always been neutral on the question of sovereignty. And we have always favored peaceful solution of the issue by negotiation. I am well aware that it was the Argentines that interrupted negotiations by attacking the islands. But I do not think that in itself is reason not to support a solution by negotiations sometime in the future. It is hard for the United States to have any other position. … I believe more weight ought to be given to the text of the Resolution as it now stands. The Brazilian amendments have made it much less objectionable. It was on the basis of this new text that my colleagues informed Argentina and other sponsors that we would support it. In particular, the references to de facto cessation of hostilities and the intention of the partners not to renew them takes us a good ways towards the formal renunciation of hostilities we both have been working for, … At the time of the vote, our representative will put clearly on record our views that force must not be used again to solve the dispute, that the underlying question of sovereignty is not and cannot be prejudiced by the Resolution, and that the aspirations of the islanders must be taken into account.”
Sir Anthony Parsons retires from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be appointed to the post of Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister.
November 4th – at the UN, the General Assembly adopts Resolution 37/9 (90 for, 12 against with 52 abstentions) requesting the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the question of the Falkland Islands.
“In explanation of vote, absence in the text of an explicit reference to the principle of self-determination or respect for the freely expressed wishes of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands was cited by many, among them Antigua and Barbuda, Fiji, the Gambia and Solomon Islands, which voted against; Jamaica, Lesotho, Norway, Sweden and Zaire, which abstained; and Liberia, which voted in favour. New Zealand voted negatively, and the Netherlands abstained, saying that the Islanders were entitled to have a say in their own future. Along with the United Kingdom, which voted against, Belgium, abstaining, said the text should have referred not only to the interests but also to the aspirations of the Islanders. Botswana, Ghana, Israel and the United States, supporting the text, and Sweden, abstaining, said the negotiations should take into account the Islanders’ rights and aspirations. Australia, abstaining, said the text referred to the rights of the inhabitants in a highly qualified way…
The United Kingdom called it ridiculous to rest the case on the Argentine version of what had happened in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in disregard of the wishes of the current inhabitants. Saint Lucia, abstaining, was not convinced that the argument against self-determination was valid in respect of the time-frame in question. ..
Mexico, on the other hand, asserted that the text did not expressly affirm the background information in support of the legitimacy of Argentina’s claim over the Islands. The United Kingdom denied, however, that Argentina had inherited title to the Falklands from Spain, that Argentina had ever established sovereignty or a permanent settlement there by 1833 or that Britain had used force in reoccupying the Islands that year…
Luxembourg called the right to self-determination a corollary of the principle of decolonization, and Australia asserted that it was Argentina, not Britain, that was attempting to impose an alien rule.”
Secretary of State, Francis Pym, makes a speech in the House of Commons regarding Lord Shackleton’s updated report; ” … The Government agree with the broad conclusions of Lord Shackleton’s report and are ready to support action by the Falkland Islands Government in the following major areas covered by his recommendations: A Falkland Islands Development Agency should be established. This would be provided with funds to buy land on the open market, and to divide it into smaller holdings. It would also have powers to make loans and grants towards the cost of a number of small-scale development projects. The Islands’ agricultural research centre, the Grasslands Trials Unit should be expanded; There should be a feasibility study on an improved harbour complex, including a new deep-water jetty; The Stanley-Darwin road should be completed and the existing network of tracks should be improved; A pilot scheme for salmon-ranching and a survey of shellfish resources should be established; hotel and guest house facilities upgraded; and cottage industry skills developed.
Although they were not specifically covered in Lord Shackleton’s report, we believe that urgent action should also be taken to improve the water supply and sewerage system in Port Stanley, and to study the requirements for future electricity generation and distribution, and the telephone system in the islands.
The following proposals made by Lord Shackleton in our view require further study:Exploratory offshore fishing and the establishment of a 200-mile fisheries limit: the implications of such a limit, not least its policing, and the degree of commercial interest in fishing need to be carefully assessed. Expansion of tourism: this will depend to a large extent on the establishment of commercial air links. …
Lord Shackleton proposed expenditure of between £30 million and £35 million. My tentative estimate is that the programme that I have outlined would cost about £31 million over six years. The Government also propose to make available a further £5 million for civilian rehabilitation, in addition to the £10 million announced in July. The islands’ economy will inevitably be affected by the presence of a sizeable military garrison there, and by the outcome of the Government’s present studies into the feasibility and cost of establishing a better airfield on the islands. … We have restored the freedom of the Falkland Islanders and shall continue to do what is necessary to guarantee their future security. … ”
The British Government commission a firm of undertakers to find and consolidate all of the Argentine war graves at a single site near Port Darwin. Where an identity is unknown, the grave is to be marked simply – “Soldado Argentino Solo Conocido Por Dios.”
In the last act of the year, the Corbeta Uruguay military base in the South Sandwich Islands is destroyed by the Royal Navy after HMS Hecate discovers that the Argentine flag has been raised.