Falkland Islands Dispute Escalates As UK Bans Exports To Argentina's Military

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Falklands
The HMS Dauntless departed for the Falklands from Portsmouth in southern England on April 4, 2012.

The U.K. banned all exports to Argentina's military Thursday amid heightened tensions over the long-standing Falkland Islands dispute.

The British government's Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a written statement to Parliament that the move was in response to Argentina's recent actions aimed at harming the economic interests of the Falkland Islanders, Agence France Presse reported.

Last month, the Argentine government announced it would take legal action against companies involved in developing the oil resources of the Falklands, which it claims.

The oil and gas of the South Atlantic are property of the Argentine people, Argentine foreign minister Hector Timmerman said in March, BBC News reported.

The British government has said that the Falklands islanders are within their rights to develop oil resources, and is now targeting trade with the Argentine military to discourage interference with such development.

 We are determined to ensure no British licensable exports or trade have the potential to be used by Argentina to impose an economic blockade on the Falkland islanders or inhibit their legitimate rights to develop their own economy, Cable said, AFP reported. In the future, no licenses shall be granted for any military or dual-use goods and technology being supplied to military armed users in Argentina, except in exceptional circumstances.

Since 1998, the U.K. has limited exports to Argentina to products that only allow it to maintain its military, rather than enhance it. Over the past five years, trade with the Argentine military has been worth over $5.35 million (£3.3 million), according to BBC News.

The U.K. has also increased military support to the Falklands, sending a battleship, the HMS Dauntless, on April 4 for a six-month deployment to the islands.

The Falklands lie roughly 300 miles of Argentina's coast, though they have remained under British rule since 1833. The two countries went to war on April 2, 1982 after Argentina invaded the islands. The war lasted 74 days, ending with Argentina's defeat at the hands of a British naval task force, leaving 649 Argentine and 258 British troops dead.

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