Britain Says to 'Beef Up' Defense of Disputed Falkland Islands

Falklands protest
Veterans of the Falklands War march past Las Malvinas War memorial wall dedicated to Argentine servicemen who fought in the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina, in Buenos Aires, June 20, 2013. About 1,000 people died during the war over the disputed Falkland Islands before Argentina surrendered to the British on June 14, 1982. The sign reads, "Islas Malvinas belongs to Argentina". Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

Britain plans to "beef up" its defenses of the disputed Falkland Islands to ensure they are properly protected, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said on Tuesday, in comments likely to irk Argentina which still lays claim to the archipelago.

Tensions over the Falklands still crackle more than 30 years after Argentine forces seized them and Britain sent a task force to retake them in a brief war which saw more than 600 Argentine and 255 British servicemen killed.

"I'm going to be announcing to parliament later today how we are going to beef up the defenses there," Fallon, who is due to make a statement on the subject at 1230 GMT (0830 ET), told Sky news.

The Argentine government claims the islands, which are 300 miles off the Argentine coast and 8,000 miles from Britain, as its own and has stepped up a campaign to get what it calls Las Malvinas back.

"We have to respond to that and make sure that the islands are properly protected. We have to take account of any future and possible threats to the islands," Fallon told BBC Radio.

The Sun newspaper reported on Tuesday that Russia was working on a deal to lease 12 long range bombers to Argentina.

"That particular deal hasn't been confirmed," Fallon said, saying a threat remained nonetheless. "It is a very live threat, we have to respond to it," he said.