MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Sorry to keep you all waiting. I'll take some questions now.
REPORTER #1: Was the timing of the action accidental or planned?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Very much the latter. The UK is in the midst of reorganizing its military. Its second to last helicopter carrier, Illustrious, was retired to a memorial just last December, leaving only the Ocean as an active helicopter carrier. It retired all of its fixed-wing carriers some time ago, with their replacements not scheduled to start sea trials until next year. And, of course, this is our summer and their winter, making for nasty weather in the UK and North Atlantic and good weather for us.
REPORTER #2: What was the very first action by the Argentinian government?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: There were many, especially with respect to the planning. But the first announced action was the establishment of a Maritime Exclusion Zone extending to 200 nautical miles around the Malvinas. I thought this was especially ironic given that the UK announced the same thing in late April 1982, just before it sunk the General Belgrano outside that zone.
REPORTER #3: When I flew to the Malvinas immediately after Britain retreated, I looked out the window and could have sworn the various fishing vessels were arranged in a spread-out grid pattern. Were they?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: That is an astute observation. Yes, we bought a good number of obsolete fishing boats and outfitted them with listening devices and sonar ranging equipment. This was our on-the-cheap method of creating both an early warning system and a means of determining the position of submarines. We did not have the time to tie all of the sensors together via a networked computer system, but since we only needed to detect one or two submarines at a time, we could just do it the old-fashioned way, with charts and human intuition based on technical data.
REPORTER #4: Weren't you afraid you would sink your own submarines?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: I think you have the sequence of events confused. We kept our submarines in port at first. We wanted to ensure that any initial sightings were of British submarines.
REPORTER #5: Which submarine was sunk first?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Ambush, their newest Astute class boat and an ironic name to say the least, was in the general vicinity, having just visited Australia. It arrived in our Maritime Exclusion Zone shortly after our announcement. As we expected, it did not announce its presence at all, but our trawler network picked it up.
REPORTER #6: Can you confirm the report that the torpedoes you used were purchased from North Korea?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: No, because that is simply not true. We purchased a number of them from China. We inspected them thoroughly. I am not an expert on torpedoes, but my officers believe they are carbon copies of the U.S. MK 48 Mod 7. It is such a good copy, such a quiet weapon, that we believe the design was stolen via cyber-attack.
REPORTER #7: Did the helicopter carrier Ocean arrive after the sinking of the Ambush?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: No, that was days later. And I would not call getting within 200 nautical miles and then turning around and heading for home "arriving."
REPORTER #8: The Falklands are clearly British territory. How can the Argentinian government justify their takeover?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Your accent is British, so your attitude is expected. Here's a short history of the Malvinas. They were first settled by France in 1764. A short time after that, Britain founded its own settlement. Then France transferred its settlement to Spain. Then around the time of the American Revolution, Britain left the islands completely. In 1833, Britain returned and staked a sole claim on the islands.
This reminds me of China's claim that it owns the entire South China Sea because some bureaucrat long ago drew a map including it in the Chinese Empire. Argentina never accepted Britain's claim, leading us to recent events.
REPORTER #9: How was the Ambush actually sunk?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: We did not want to risk any surface ships, especially after what happened last time. After we took possession of the Malvinas, we established an air base at Stanley. We added external tanks to some helicopters so they could fly long distances over the sea. When our trawler network told us a submarine was in the Maritime Exclusion Zone, we launched a helicopter carrying a torpedo. When the helicopter was over our best estimate of its position, the torpedo was released. The Ambush was the first to be sunk, with the men of the General Belgrano sending their regards!
There is some irony here. The General Belgrano is the only ship ever to have been sunk by a nuclear-powered submarine and Argentina is the only country to have sunk a nuclear-powered submarine, except for the Russians and Americans who sunk a few of their own by accident.
REPORTER #10: Were you surprised that Britain continued to send submarines?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: Yes and no. They had launched their fleet -- if you call a single helicopter carrier, some destroyers, and some frigates a fleet -- but that would not arrive for some days. Their submarines were better positioned to arrive sooner. And submarines are not like surface ships which almost always have a chance to send a distress signal. The General Belgrano was not able to do so!
Obviously the Ambush stopped communicating with the British navy after it imploded and they must have assumed the worst. Then the Torbay arrived and we sank it too. After that, I was confident no more submarines would be found. But then the Astute arrived and we sank it too. Their two newest submarines were lost as well as one from the Trafalgar class. The next submarine from the Astute class will not be ready for duty until sometime next year. And Britain wisely decided not to send any of their four ballistic missile submarines because the nuclear warheads might have contaminated a portion of the sea.
REPORTER #11: Did Britain's lack of locally-based fixed-wing aircraft give Argentina an advantage?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: I'll say it did. In the previous conflict, Britain used carrier-based Harriers to devastating advantage against us, shooting down 20 of our aircraft with the loss of only one of theirs. But now they were forced to decide if they wanted to counter our local fighters with ones launched from Europe and refueled by its recently acquired Airbus A330 MRTT tanker aircraft. All they have now are Tornadoes, which are technically up to the challenge, but fuel is a major problem especially given that not one South American country gave them permission to overfly or land on their territory. I'm sure they thought about basing them on their Ascension Island, but that is still a long flight from the Malvinas. I personally notified the British ambassador that if Tornadoes joined the fight, their tankers would be fair game. Britain is waiting for F-35s from the U.S., but given the never-ending problems the U.S. has had with them, I'm not really sure they would have made any difference.
REPORTER #12: What happened to the British residents of the Malvinas?
MINISTER OF DEFENSE JUAN URIBURU: We cannot afford to revisit this when the UK possesses two fixed-wing carriers in a remake of the Sudetenland. In our invasion, some full-time residents used rifles and other weapons in an attempt to stop us, with some of them being shot, but all 3000 or so residents were rounded up and evacuated to Buenos Aires, where they were put on British Airways planes. We allowed them to bring personal possessions with them. They are already screaming that Argentina owes them compensation, but that's Britain's problem now.
Speaking of Britain's problem, the vast majority of Islamists around the world, especially in the Syria-Iraq arena, are British. Prime Minister Embonpoint Cummerbund needs to deal with his own internal problems before worrying about far-off claims.
Sorry, but I must leave it there. I need to get back to work. We'll have more for you in the next few days and weeks.