US President Joe Biden (right) meets with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) during the AUKUS summit at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego California on March 13, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
SYDNEY — More than 100 scholars of the humanities, social sciences and other disciplines have signed an open letter as of Tuesday expressing their concerns over Australia's participation in the AUKUS trilateral security agreement.
In the letter released by the public policy journal platform Pearls and Irritations, the scholars said that AUKUS would come at a huge financial cost and with great uncertainty about its success. The deal will likely compound Australia's strategic risks, heighten geopolitical tensions and undermine efforts at nuclear non-proliferation.
FULL TEXT: AUKUS deal: An open letter to Australian govt from concerned scholars
The scholars pointed out that with an official estimate of up to 368 billion Australian dollars (about $242 billion), an amount almost certain to rise, AUKUS constitutes the most expensive defense procurement in Australian history by a wide margin
"It puts Australia at odds with our closest neighbours in the region, distracts us from addressing climate change, and risks increasing the threat of nuclear war," the letter reads.
READ MORE: AUKUS deal worst thing in every way for Australia
"Australia's defence autonomy will only be further eroded because of AUKUS. All of this will be done to support the primacy of an ally whose position in Asia is more fragile than commonly assumed, and whose domestic politics is increasingly unstable," it added.
The scholars pointed out that with an official estimate of up to 368 billion Australian dollars (about $242 billion), an amount almost certain to rise, AUKUS constitutes the most expensive defense procurement in Australian history by a wide margin.
"There are immense execution risks involved in this effort to build, operate, maintain, and crew eight SSNs (nuclear-powered submarines), and two types of boat simultaneously – the existing American Virginia-class and the yet to be designed AUKUS-class – with no experience in the management of nuclear-propulsion technology," they noted.
The scholars also cited concerns voiced by Australia's neighbors in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, which indicated that the security agreement would heighten geopolitical tensions, contribute to a regional arms race, and undermine nuclear non-proliferation.
"Such criticism reflects that AUKUS is at odds with regional desires to achieve a peaceful and balanced strategic order," they wrote in the letter.
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"Put simply, the public case for AUKUS has yet to be made with any degree of rigour or reliability. The government must justify how the agreement will make Australia safer and at an acceptable cost," the scholars said.