Cablegate: Spain-Uk: Gibraltar Visit by Uk Nuclear Sub

Published: Mon 12 Jul 2004 01:59 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (U) The visit by the British nuclear submarine HMS
Tireless to Gibraltar has provoked acute tension within the
GOS towards Britain. The HMS Tireless, which arrived the
morning of July 9, originally sparked controversy in May 2000
when it docked at Gibraltar for repairs after developing a
crack in the cooling system of its reactor and leaking a
small quantity of contaminated water into the Mediterranean.
2. (U) Press accounts in Spain quote the British government
as saying that the current visit is routine and planned to
last 4 to 6 days. The British Foreign Office is further
quoted in the Spanish press as stating that "the HMS
Tireless, like any other Royal Navy ship, is entitled to use
Gibraltar port facilities".
3. (U) The visit, however, has apparently been anything but
routine on the Spanish side. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel
Angel Moratinos called the visit an "unacceptable
provocation" and "unfriendly act" and said that it is the
latest in a series of "unfriendly" British acts since the new
Socialist government took power in April. Spain had
protested in June the attendance of Britain's Princess Anne
at ceremonies marking the 300th anniversary of the capture of
Gibraltar by an Anglo-Dutch force. Reports say that the GOS
summoned the British Ambassador in Madrid, Stephen Wright, to
the MFA twice in the last week to protest the visit of the
HMS Tireless, with MFA State Secretary Bernadino Leon using
the latest visit to convey the "displeasure and profound ill
feeling of the Spanish government given the lack of British
sensitivity toward Spanish public opinion".
4. (U) While the MFA did state that Spain will continue to
consider the United Kingdom a friend and ally, it will
"evaluate and examine" recent British actions and consider
what the "impacts on our relations with Great Britain will be
if we continue to see that it does not heed the requests of a
friendly country". The Spanish Socialist Party's Secretary
for International Affairs, Trinidad Jimenez, is quoted as
reminding "the friendly government of the United Kingdom,
that is should take good care of the bilateral relationship"
because "nothing is free in diplomacy".
5. (U) Smaller political parties in Spain also indicated
their displeasure at the visit and called for various actions
in response. The Andalusian Party (PA) called for a revision
of Andalusia's Autonomous Province Statute to include an
explicit reference to Gibraltar as "Andalusian territory" and
calling for Gibraltar to be declared a non-nuclear zone. The
United Left (Communist) Party also presented measures in
parliament proposing that the entire Mediterranean be
declared a non-nuclear zone and calling on the Spanish
government to declare if it has an "Emergency Plan" in place
in case of nuclear accidents in Gibraltar.
6. (U) Moratinos is expected to meet with British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw on July 12 to discuss Gibraltar while
both are in Brussels for the July 12-13 GAERC meetings. He
reportedly will use the opportunity to not only express
Spanish disapproval of the HMS Tireless visit, but to also
press for restarting discussions on the future of Gibraltar's
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