Kim Sengupta: The intelligence was there – but did it justify torpedoes?

Some Argentinian commanders acknowledged that the Royal Navy was justified in its action

Share
Related Topics

The sinking of the Belgrano was the moment when all hopes of a negotiated settlement of the Falklands dispute effectively ended. The attack by the submarine HMS Conqueror, outside the exclusion zone around the Falklands announced by the UK, was held up by opponents of the war as evidence that the Thatcher government did not really want a negotiated resolution to the conflict.

Since then, however, testimonies of those involved at the time have presented a mixed picture. Some, including a few senior members of the Reagan administration, were of the view that the UK had torpedoed a peace deal put together by US Secretary of State Alexander Haig and the Peruvian President. But others, including Argentinian commanders, acknowledged that the Royal Navy was justified in its action because its ship's approach of the exclusion zone could be interpreted as a hostile act.

Rear-Admiral Walter Allara, in command of the Belgrano battlegroup, said: "The entire South Atlantic was an operational theatre for both sides. We, as professionals, felt it was just too bad that we lost the Belgrano." Admiral Enrique Molina Pico, head of the Argentinian Navy in the 1990s, said the cruiser was part of an operation that posed a real threat to the British task force and that she was holding off from carrying out an attack for purely tactical reasons.

But there was unease in Britain over what happened. The acquittal by a jury of Clive Ponting, a civil servant charged under the Official Secrets Act for disclosing details of the sinking to the media, was widely seen as a manifestation of the public not buying the Government's version of events.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education require a Drama speci...

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Science Teacher - Full Time - Lo...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is looking for a Seco...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking f...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: an ad-Venn-ture, who ‘What If?’ is for and UKIP's untidy bedroom

John Rentoul
Ashya King in hospital with his mother  

Ashya King: Breakdown in relations led to this PR fiasco

Paul Peachey
Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York