Britain would not have recaptured the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982 without U.S. military assistance, former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman was quoted Sunday as saying.
In a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview to be broadcast Wednesday night, Lehman also says U.S. involvement in the Falklands war led indirectly to the Irangate scandal, the Observer newspaper reported.The weekly said Lehman's interview will be included in the latest episode of "An Ocean Apart," a BBC documentary series on British-American relations.
"Britain would have had to have withdraw from the Falklands" if the Reagan administration withheld support, it quoted Lehman as saying.
U.S. military aid in the 74-day war, in which Britain recaptured the South Atlantic archipelago from invading Argentine forces, has been a closely guarded secret, the Observer said.
The newspaper quoted unidentified Pentagon sources as saying U.S. supplies during the war included 200 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles, eight Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, mortar shells, satellite intelligence, communications facilities and use of a U.S. air base on Ascension Island.
It said the sources also indicated the U.S. Navy would have loaned the 12,000-ton assault ship USS Guam if the British aircraft carrier Invincible was sunk.
Lehman was quoted as saying that when Latin American countries learned of the U.S. aid, they withdrew support for the U.S.-backed reb-els fighting Nicaragua's Sandinista government, and Washington was forced to find alternative means of supplying the rebels.
"The Argentines and all the other Latin Americans abruptly stopped supporting the efforts of the Salvadorans and the Contra forces against the Communists in Central America, and that led to Contragate," he was quoted as saying.