Britain to boost Falklands defences
Modernisation of defences required.
Britain to boost Falklands Islands defences
Britain is to “modernise” the defences of the Falkland Islands, with plans to be set out to Parliament later.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC “any future and possible threats” to the islands had to be taken into account.
The long-running dispute over the British overseas territory has has been heightened in recent years.
Mr Fallon said the government was committed to protecting the islanders’ “right to remain British”.
The defence secretary is expected to update MPs on a review ordered by his predecessor, Philip Hammond.
It comes amid reports in the Sun newspaper that Russia is planning to lease 12 long-range bombers to the government in Buenos Aires, raising fears they could be used to support a renewed attack.
Argentina lays claim to the islands, which it calls the Malvinas, but Mr Fallon said the claim had “no basis in international law” and should be withdrawn.
Asked about the reports of an arms deal with Russia, Mr Fallon told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they had “not been confirmed”.
But he said the threat from Argentina remained, adding: “We have to respond to it, and I am responding to it this afternoon.”
The defence secretary said he would not be setting out the “full details” of the UK’s plan, for security reasons.
But he added: “We do need to modernise our defences there, to ensure that we have sufficient troops there and that the islands are properly defended in terms of air defence and maritime defence.”
He said the government’s job was to “protect the islands and particularly the right of the islanders to remain British”.
In 2013, Falkland Islanders took part in a referendum, voting by 1,513 to three to remain a British overseas territory.