London: Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s frantic efforts to win the Falkland Island war have been revealed in extraordinary details, as official files on the crisis have been made public after 30 years.
Government records show how she even rebuked US president Ronald Reagan after he issued a last-ditch appeal for her to abandon the campaign to retake the islands and hand them over to international peacekeepers.
According to the Daily Mirror, she also castigated French president Francois Mitterrand amid mounting panic that he could allow Argentina to acquire more deadly Exocet missiles to attack British troops.
Nearly 20 crew members were killed when HMS Sheffield was crippled by one of the missiles.
Thatcher wrote a furious letter warning Mitterand of the “devastating effect on the relationship between our two countries” if he did not block the export of all the French-made missiles.
The files reveal how Reagan, who shared a right-wing ideology with Thatcher, at one time pleaded with her to negotiate with the Argentinians.
As British troops closed in on final victory, he made a phone call to her on May 31, 1982, and told her that the best chance for peace was “before complete Argentine humiliation”.
He added that as the UK now had the upper hand militarily “it should strike a deal now”.
According to the files, Thatcher retorted that Britain has not lost precious lives in battle and sent an enormous task force to hand over the Queen’s islands to a contact group.
She added that as Britain had to go into the islands alone, with no outside help, she could “not now let the invader gain from his aggression”, the report said.
According to the report, some 255 British lives were lost in the war – and six ships sunk.
But the archives show she privately warned him it could have “disastrous” consequences for the entire NATO alliance if a fresh consignment of French-built Exocets was allowed to reach Argentina, the report added.