The conflict lasted 3 months and cost more than 1.000 lives mainly because most of soldiers from both countries committed suicides due to post-traumatic disorders.
This war was the result of a long-standing sovereignty claim put forward by Argentina in order to achieve an sovereignty agreement on the basis that they were invaded in 1833 by the British Empire that managed to expel Luis Vernet, the first Argentine designated governor who was already in charge of the islands.
In 1982, Argentina was being governed by a falling dictatorship that sought to divert public attention by using the cause stated above in order to avoid their loss of power and, at the same time, force Britain to start the negotiations she previously pledged to negotiate believing that this was not going to cause any armed conflict.
In April 2 of 1982 Argentine armed forces were dispatched to the disputed islands and seized the British garrison that protected them without causing any death. This fact was seen by Argentina as a legitimate reocupation of its own territory based on the Argentine Constitution and by Britain as an Invasion of a British Oversea Territory.
Sinking of the Belgrano, The Most Controversial Fact of the War:
On May 2, the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror torpedoed the ARA General Belgrano Argentine cruiser as it was sailing away from the Falkland Islands, the British Task Force and the Exclusion Zone declared by the UK causing 316 Argentine deaths.
Fourteen hours prior to her sinking, Peru's president Belaunde Terry put forward the Peruvian Peace Proposals that primely suggested the withdrawal of both the Argentine and British forces and the introduction of a Neuter government constituted by Brazil, Peru, Germany and USA until a peaceful agreement is formally reached.
However, the administration of Margaret Thatcher made the following statements in order to justify the sinking:
1) HMS Conqueror followed the Belgrano for 24 hours.
2) The Belgrano was sailing towards the British Task Force at the moment of the sinking
3) The Belgrano carried Exocet Missiles according to Intelligence Assessments
4) The Peruvian Peace Proposals did not reach London until 3 hours after the attack on the Belgrano.
On May 24, 1982 (a few days before the General Election of 1983) the BBC broadcast a controversial interview with Mrs Thatcher and Diana Gould who asked her for justification of the sinking of the Belgrano. Mrs. Thatcher looks very affected by the questions.
Video: BBC Interview with Diana Gould
Video: A fragment of a deeper BBC investigation:
In 1985, Clive Ponting was arrested and charged for violating the Secrets Act by passing classified secret documents to Tam Dalyell about the sinking of the Belgrano, the documents revealed the following points refuting the government lies under the Thatcher administration:
1) HMS Conqueror has been following the Belgrano for 36 hours
2) The Belgrano was sailing away from the Falklands and the British Task Force
3) It did not carry any kind of missiles system
Video: Tam Dalyell on the Sinking of the Belgrano
Consequently, Tam Dalyell, a member of Parliament later stated:
"Truth of the matter is that the threat was not the 44-years-old cruiser, it was in fact the [Peruvian] Peace Proposal because that would have deprived Mrs. Thatcher of the Militar Victory that the Falklands War was all about in the first place, it was British Dometic politics rather than any care for those Falkland Islanders"
In addition, the commander of the Conqueror, Christopher Wrestford Brown stated in his book, "Our Falklands War" that he had the Belgrano in his sight 36 hours prior to her sinking as she was refueling at sea. (This fact fits the descriptions given in the secret documents leaked by Clive Ponting)
"That ship was a danger to our boys"Although Mrs. Thatcher has repeatedly stated that the sinking of the Belgrano, in spite of its heading, was meant to protect British Soldiers lives, the sinking itself triggered the Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aere Argentina) to strike back sinking numerous British ships rather than saving British lives as she repeatedly stated for defending her decision.
Picture of the sinking of British ships:
Troubled History of Official Secrets Act (BBC News)
1985: Falklands' row civil servant resigns (BBC News)
Our Falklands War: The Men of the Task Force tell their own Story ISBN-10: 0907771084
The Peruvian Peace Proposals