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Opposition calls for investigation of nuclear strike plans in Falklands

By
MICHAEL DENNIGAN

LONDON -- Opposition members of parliament called Thursday for an urgent investigation into charges Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher considered a nuclear strike against Argentina during the 1982 Falklands war.

The weekly socialist magazine, New Statesman, said it confirmed earlier allegations that a Polaris submarine equipped with nuclear missiles was deployed as far south as Ascension island.

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The charge originally was made by Labor Party lawmaker Tam Dalyell who said he had information that nuclear weapons might have been used if a vessel in the British task force was destroyed by Argentine missile attacks.

'The likely target for a threatened or demonstration nuclear attack was said to be Cordoba, northern Argentina,' the New Statesman said.

It said details of the Polaris deployment 'was given in a series of highly classified telegrams sent to the British embassy in Washington.'

British government officials had no immediate comment on the claim.

Dalyell said the magazine's independent confirmation of his allegation 'demonstrates not only the sending of nuclear weapons but a willingness to use nuclear weapons. There must be an urgent investigation into that.'

Labor foreign affairs spokesman John Foulkes called the charges 'quite momentous' and demanded an independent review of British policy at the time.

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The New Statesman, which said its report was based on secret government documents it obtained, also claimed Britain ordered the sinking of Argentina's aircraft carrier, the 25 de Mayo, while the United States was exploring last-ditch peace efforts.

Reporter Duncan Campbell, a specialist on defense and security matters, said the London 'war cabinet' ordered the attack on the carrier April 30, 1982. Alexander Haig, then U.S. secretary of state, was negotiating with both sides to find a peaceful solution.

The British failed to find the Argentine flagship, which carried 1,500 men, but two days later torpedoed and sank the cruiser Belgrano with the loss of 368 lives.

The magazine said Foreign Secretary Francis Pym and Attorney-General Sir Michael Havers opposed the decision to attack the carrier as probably contrary to international law because Argentina was only warned its ships would be attacked within a 200-mile zone around the Falklands. The Belgrano was outside that zone.

Argentine forces invaded the British colony, an archipelago 450 miles off South America's southeast coast in the South Atlantic, April 2, 1982, claiming an end to 149 years of British rule.

British forces recaptured Stanley, the capital, June 14, ending the war.

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