Antarctica, Oil and Leaseback: Britain’s Strategic Interests in the Falklands (1979 to 2 April 1982)
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This chapter looks at British economic and strategic interests in the Falklands during the Thatcher years. It provides evidence that British oil companies and the British government were very interested in potential oil deposits around the Falkland Islands. It shows that ministers considered the prospects for British access to oil and marine resources at every stage of the sovereignty negotiations with Argentina, challenging most British interpretations, which assert that domestic political factors were the government’s only consideration. It reveals that ministers feared that losing the Falklands War could weaken Britain’s claim to Antarctica—indicating that strategic factors were taken into account in the conflict. This chapter examines differing attitudes within the British elite towards the Falklands dispute and discusses whether the war could have been avoided.