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June 24, 2015
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April 18, 2011
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December 8, 1979
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ROUTING D A RESS DATE INITIALS TO: 1 ~~N k 2 3 4 ACTION DIRECT REPLY PREPAR E REPLY APPROVAL DISPATCH RECOM MENDATION COMMENT FILE RETUR N CONCURRE NCE INFORMATION SIGNATURE REMARKS: FROM: NAME, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NO. DATE Access to this document will be restricted to those approved for the following specific activities: (b)(1) (b)(3) APPROVED FOR RELEASE[] DATE: 04-Apr-2011 NATI L SECURIT NFORMATION Unaut zed Disclosure Subject t riminal Sanctions (Security Classification) dir"AW, 'iff'off !;~ 'A The Director of Central Intelligence EO 13526 3.3(b)(1)>25Yrs EO 13526 3.5(c)- Copy 7'7 _ .8. DEC 1979 SUBJECT Argentina-Chile: Beagle Channel Dispute and the Potential for Conflict n Argentina continues to move substantial military forces, equipment, and naval units south with the apparent intent to strengthen its territorial claims to the South Atlantic by seizing a'couple of uninhabited islands south of the Beagle Channel (probably the Evout and Barnevelt Islands), and possibly some Chilean territory on the mainland. Although Argentina and Chile have agreed to have their Foreign Ministers meet on 12 December to identify a mutually acceptable mediator for,their dispute and to work out issues related to territorial jurisdiction in the region, it seems unlikely that any substantive progress will be made. Argentina will be prepared to make a military move after.15 December. Should hostihti_gs break out, Chile will almost certainly.invoke the NI IAM 78-1003J Copy 77 8 December 1978 ALERT MEMORANDUM* ARGENTINA-CHILE--THE BEAGLE CHANNEL DISPUTE POTENTIAL FOR CONFLICT (U) We have increasing indications that Argentina's armed forces are prepared to initiate hostilities over the Beagle Channel dispute in mid-December if Chile does not make substantial concessions at the Foreign Ministers' meeting scheduled for 12 December. By,15 December, three days after the Foreign Minis- ters of Argentina and Chile meet in what may be the final peaceful attempt to resolve the Beagle Channel crisis,. both nations will be ready for large-scale military ac- tions in four potential theaters of operation that in- clude northeastern Chile as well as the Beagle Channel - Cape Horn area.. *The Alert Memorandum is an interagency publication issued by the Director of Central Intelligence on behalf of the Intelligence Community. The Alert Memorandum was in use from 1974 through 1976, and the procedures for this-inteZ- Zigence alerting device were last approved by the United States Intelligence Board on 9 January 1975. The DCI re- cently reorganized the warning structure within the InteZ- Zigence Community and appointed a National InteZZigence. Of- ficer for Warning to oversee the development of procedures and to assist the Community in developing an increased awareness of its warning responsibilities. The revival of the Alert Memorandum is undertaken as a part of those re- sponsibilities. Comments on the procedures for warning should be addressed to the National Intelligence Officer for Warning This memorandum has been prepared in consultation with he Bureau of Intelligence and Re- search, Department of State, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. F-1 All warships stationed in Puerto Belgrano--the main Argentine naval base--are already in a 24-hour readiness posture. Final Argentine Army deployments are to begin this week with combat units from the Army's four corps .to be positioned along the border and in the disputed area; six or seven new regiments of conscripts and re- cAntIv trained reservists have reportedly been activated. This massive deployment of force could mean that: -- Argentina is continuing its efforts to intim- idate the Chileans into territorial con- cessions; -- Argentina is making a tactical move to hold down Chilean military forces along the Andean border while it attacks one of the Beagle islands or smaller islets near Cape Horn; -- Argentina is prepa-red, either as a primary or secondary military move, to occupy Chilean territory outside of the Beagle area as well. All available information suggests that if hostili- ties ensue, Argentina will be the aggressor. Hardline. Argentine military commanders are highly critical of President Videla's efforts to reach a peaceful settle- ment, and the President probably is losing control of the situation.. Videla is being faulted not only for what hardliners perceive to be inept handling of the Beagle Channel issue but also for the inefficiency of his system of consensus government and his firm support of his economics minister. Since Videla retired from the Army on 1 August and turned over command of that ser- vice to an Army colleague his presidential authority has eroded. Reports in early November suggested that nation- alistic officers were talking of replacing Videla, but we have no firm evidence of serious coup plotting. These hardline commanders apparently do not expect results from the Foreign Ministers' conference and are TO insisting on a major policy role in the Beagle Channel dis ute. This information--buttressed by other sources--re ects the Argentine high command's deter- mination to take decisive action to resolve the dispute At the same time, there are indications that the Argentine Foreign Ministry is actively seeking-to re- solve The Argentine high command reportedly has ordered all operational units of the armed forces to be fully deployed and ready for combat by 15 December. In recent months, Argentina has purchased between $550 million and $750 million of military equipment and ammunition abroad-- only some of which, however, has been delivered and is ready for use. Earlier estimates by the Chileans that Argentina was bluffing--a possible factor in their previous diplo- matic inflexibility--have changed to pessimism about a peaceful outcome. Whether the Chi.leans think Argentine military moves would be local or general is not known. Given their present pessimism, however, they doubtless fear both possibilities and are preparing for them. The Chilean riposte to a localized Argentine attack most likely would be a limited military countermove and a heavy reliance on quick international pressure to end the hostilities. Argentine occupation of Chilean terri- tory well away from the southern zone wi y bring a full-scale Chilean military response. T T TO ET TOP T *BUENOS AIRES PUERTO BEEGRANO ^ (Administered by U.K., claimed by f- 1~ Cape Horn Merirha) ~4 Argentine claim Islands and appurtenant islets and rocks awarded to Chile by International Arbitration Court in May 1977. + Airfield ? Naval Station 0 Kilamamra 100