CTBT Preparatory Commission

CTBT Preparatory Commission

November 16, 2009

U.S. Statement

Mr. Chairman:

My delegation is pleased to take the floor under your leadership of the Preparatory Commission (PrepCom).  We assure you of our full cooperation and support as this body moves forward to complete the preparations necessary for the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

President Obama has made clear that the CTBT is integral to the U.S. nonproliferation and arms control agenda, and the United States in the months ahead will work both to seek the advice and consent of the United States Senate to ratify the treaty, and to secure the ratifications by the other remaining Annex 2 States necessary to bring the treaty into force at an early date.

By supporting the CTBT, we are working in the interest of all nations committed to nonproliferation.  We believe that the CTBT contributes to the long-range vision of a world without nuclear weapons without jeopardizing our ability to maintain a safe, secure and effective stockpile as long as nuclear weapons exist.

Secretary of State Clinton led the U.S. delegation to the Article XIV Conference held less than two months ago in New York, ending the decade-long absence of the United States from such conferences.  In her statement, she reiterated the U.S. commitment to moving forward on ratification of the CTBT and the treaty’s entry into force.  Just before the Secretary’s statement, President Obama, chairing the United Nations Security Council Summit meeting on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, singled out the importance of the CTBT. Many at the Conference recognized that the momentum for entry into force of the CTBT has increased, and that 2010 will be a decisive year, an opportunity that must not be squandered.  It is time to convert those words of support for the treaty and its early entry into force uttered in New York into concrete actions here in Vienna.

We can all be proud of the accomplishments of the Preparatory Commission to date.  We have installed the vast majority of the International Monitoring System (IMS); the International Data Centre (IDC) routinely receives and processes vast amounts of monitoring data and forwards on a regular basis its products and the raw IMS data to the members of this Commission; and we have taken important steps toward establishing an operational on-site inspection (OSI) program.

Yet much work remains before us to successfully carry out our task of completing all the preparations necessary for entry into force.  Some of the IMS stations awaiting installation are in difficult locations, where accessibility and terrain will be a challenge.  We are still coming to grips with the difficulties of maintaining a worldwide network of monitoring stations covering the full spectrum of the world’s climates – from arid deserts to rainforest; from tropical islands to frozen tundra.  IDC analysts are still developing the techniques to efficiently and accurately process the IMS data within very short timelines.

As the United States assesses work on the OSI element of the verification regime, we are struck by both the large amount of work that has been accomplished and the large amount remaining.  The Integrated Field Exercise held in Kazakhstan in 2008 has been of great value – and should be the first of many such exercises.  While many of the ideas and approaches developed by experts working in climate-controlled buildings like this one proved to be effective in the field, others did not survive the harsh truths of the real world.  As the OSI experts develop the best solutions to the problems identified in, and the lessons learned from, the field exercise, there will again be a need to test these “improvements” under the many stresses that a full-scale OSI will bring to bear. I have a hunch that all of our OSI experts will be quite busy.

What we do here not only reflects the sense of urgency and the importance that we ascribe to bringing the CTBT into force.  It also demonstrates, in a concrete fashion, our shared commitment to achieving this common objective by taking the actions necessary to establish a viable and effective Organization and a robust and effective verification regime.  Now is the time for the Preparatory Commission to pick up the pace of its activities.

One of the recent accomplishments of the PrepCom is Working Group B’s completion of near-final drafts of the operational manuals for seismological, hydroacoustic, and infrasound monitoring.  Working Group B had set a goal, not a deadline, for itself of completing these drafts by the end of 2009.  A shared desire to achieve that goal has focused and encouraged the work of the experts in Working Group B.  While they did not meet the goal of completing near-final drafts of the radionuclide and IDC operational manuals, striving to achieve that goal led to great progress on those manuals as well, with the radionuclide manual being very nearly completed.  Additional time for Working Group B deliberations in this year’s schedule might have seen us complete all five manuals.

We should follow this model of setting goals for ourselves and then devoting the necessary time and energy to achieve them.  The Chairs of Working Group A and B have set forth ambitious plans for addressing many of the remaining tasks of the PrepCom, and we should rise to the occasion.  We should devote the time and resources needed to carry out the work required, and by such action show that this body has risen to the challenge and is progressing at an increased pace toward making an effectively verifiable ban on nuclear explosive testing a reality.

Secretary Clinton made clear in her statement at the Article XIV Conference that we are prepared to pay our share of the Preparatory Commission budget so that the global verification regime will be fully operational by the time the CTBT enters into force.  We are already looking for new ways to work with other members of the PrepCom and with the PTS to develop and improve the verification capabilities of the CTBT Organization. While we believe that such initiatives will make important contributions to the PrepCom’s work, they will in no way be a substitute for program-driven budgets and a program-driven method of work.

We have demonstrated our readiness to devote the time of our experts to meetings of the PrepCom’s working groups, and to CTBT-related workshops and exercises, to smartly push forward with the tasks at hand.  We recognize that some members of the PrepCom are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to bring their experts, expertise, and energy to such fora, but we would encourage those members not to become obstacles in the progressive implementation of the mandate of the PrepCom.

We all know that our time and the time of our experts are valuable commodities.  The formal meetings of the policy-making organs (PMOs) are where the real decisions are taken, and we must make sure that the valuable time we devote to formal meetings is used to the greatest effect.  Intersessional work, whether in workshops, experts meetings, extended consultations, or the virtual venue of the Experts Communication System are invaluable in laying the groundwork for consideration and decision by the PMOs, and we must take full advantage of such opportunities to address the complex technical issues we face.  The intersessional work needs to be presented to the PMOs in a timely and clear manner to fully assess the results of such work so that the PMOs can take informed action.

We should look at other formal tools we have developed and used already, such as the joint Working Group A/Working Group B meetings, in order to make the most effective use of our meeting time.  We often find ourselves in the working groups grappling with issues that cut across both working groups, leading to the transfer of such issues repeatedly between groups.  Much as Working Group B introduced joint themes to better address issues that cut across the various task groups originally established, the time spent in joint meetings can be put to more constructive use and perhaps relieve the separate working groups of tasks consuming time simply because neither can take a full decision on the matter.

Mr. Chairman, as I said at the beginning of my statement, the United States is ready and eager to provide its cooperation and support to the important work of this body.  We are optimistic about the prospects for CTBT entry into force, although it will not be easy and will require the efforts of all of us, not just a few.  Let us all work together to turn momentum into action and finally reality.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman