CTBTO Preparatory Commission

Statement of the United States to the Thirty-Fifth Session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission

Vienna, Austria 8 November 2010

Ambassador Glyn Davies
U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA and the United Nations Office in Vienna

Mr. Chairman:

My delegation is pleased to take the floor under your leadership of this thirty-fifth meeting 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 his Administration is committed to seeking the advice and consent of the U.S. 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.

This past May, I was part of the U.S. delegation to the 2010 Review Conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  I would again call the Commission’s attention to an action item from the consensus final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which is directed explicitly to this body:

“Action 14: The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization is to be encouraged to fully develop the verification regime for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, including early completion and provisional operationalization of the international monitoring system in accordance with the mandate of the Preparatory Commission, which should, upon entry into force of that Treaty, serve as an effective, reliable, participatory and non-discriminatory verification system with global reach, and provide assurance of compliance with that Treaty.”

The NPT RevCon statement called for early completion of the International Monitoring System and exhorts us to fully develop the verification regime.   Every time that I am told that the regime is “well developed,” I am reminded that it is not yet actually “complete.”

To move forward, our program and budget need to focus on three realities.  First, we have an obligation to deliver an operational verification regime to the first Conference of States Parties.    I would emphasize that what is required is not just a “well-advanced” verification regime, but an operational one.  While stations are the essential foundation for a verification regime, building and certifying stations alone will not achieve the goal of an operational regime.

Second, we need to realize that this regime is only well-advanced, not fully complete, and therefore has not achieved a steady state situation.  If we had a fully-established verification regime – one that is comprised of an International Monitoring System (IMS), an International Data Centre (IDC), and an on-site inspection (OSI) regime that is fully capitalized and tested, and has an established track record – then we could accurately assess our static budget needs.  But until we reach such a state, we cannot consider a zero real growth budget as a tenable approach, let alone a budget with less than zero real growth, as is presently before us.

One example of the problem is the case of Hydroacoustic Array 03, the severely damaged hydroacoustic station and shore facilities at Juan Fernandez Island.  While we have a funding mechanism in place that should have been able to deal with this needed repair effort, there has been some resistance to ensuring that enough funds were being budgeted in the sustainment account within the capital investment fund to build up reserves that could be used for an expensive project of this kind.

I would recall that my delegation has spoken of the need to accumulate reserves for such repairs, and specifically referred to the likely need to fund repairs to hydroacoustic stations.   We are concerned that in some quarters the belief persists that a failure to regularly expend all funds from the sustainment account represents either bad management or bad budget discipline on the part of the Provisional Technical Secretariat.  Had we been regularly budgeting a few million dollars more each year for the sustainment fund, we may have avoided the acute spike in our financial needs that we currently face.   It is important that we budget appropriately in the future to avoid surges in our budget requirements.  It is important that we make the investments needed to ensure that the Treaty and its verification system are fully operational and sustainable.

Even so, there will sometimes be special projects that require temporary increases in the budget level of the organization.  The Enterprise Resource Planning tool is an example of this.  The need for International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) compliance is something that we all recognize as a prudent action, and one that will improve the cost-effective operation of this organization.  However, developing the needed tools requires an up-front investment, and Member States in such cases need to look to the realities before us.  Such projects need not increase the future baselines for budgets, but for the duration of such major and important projects, we all should be ready to support the needed funding.

Third, it is essential to focus on the capacity of this organization.  In addition to expending a great deal of effort to help Member States develop the capacity to make use of the data and products of this organization, we need to simultaneously invest in and sustain the means of collecting the data and generating the products.   A National Data Center is of little benefit if there are no useful data or products for it to receive.  The PTS has made important efforts to focus on capacity-building and training young, up-and-coming scientists, who can be expected to contribute to the capacity of the IDC and their own NDCs.  Prudent investment to ensure both the future availability of data and products and the ability to make use of them is a good strategy.

It is also important to consider the current “well-advanced” prospects for entry into force (EIF).  Nearly eighty percent of the forty-four required instruments of ratification have been deposited.   The United States is committed to bringing about CTBT entry into force as soon as possible.  The Nuclear Posture Review adopted earlier this year demonstrably reaffirmed this commitment and emphasized the strength that the CTBT can lend to the international nonproliferation regime and strategic stability.  Everyone realizes that moving from “well-advanced” to “complete” will require considerable effort, and that while the number of tasks yet before us has shrunk, those remaining are among the hardest and most resource-intensive.

Some say that we are in a position to carry out the needed work to achieve completion of the verification regime with only two formal meetings of Working Group B per year, neither of which should exceed three weeks in length.  Although several delegations have called for an assessment of the tasks still requiring completion, both by the PTS and the policy-making organs, this has not been done.  Those who adamantly insist that only two meetings a year suffice are those who are most eager to avoid such an assessment.   To an extent, this is understandable.   It is daunting to be in the midst of a large and difficult project, having already accomplished much, and to confront the reality that significant, complex tasks yet remain.  The aphorism that the last five percent of a task requires ninety-five percent of the overall effort applies.  We’ve done the easy part with respect to developing a monitoring and verification regime.  We did so with three meeting cycles per year with Working Group B OSI experts in parallel to those of the IMS and IDC experts.  With three meeting cycles per year, we’ve completed the really easy part, but have only been dabbling in the really daunting tasks that remain.  We must evaluate where we are, identify the tasks that we have — consciously or unconsciously — set aside as “too hard” or “not exigent” and make a serious commitment to goals and deadlines to bring our mandate to completion.

We must not lose sight of the important role played by the Advisory Group as a provider of expert advice on budgetary and financial matters that is divorced from the collective biases in the Policy Making Organizations.   It is, of course, advice, and it is ultimately up to those advised to judge whether the recommendations should be accepted and implemented.  Important though its role is, the Advisory Group is not another PMO, even if its membership is increasingly becoming a subset of this body.

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.  Let us all work together to turn momentum into further action, and through action make the vision of the CTBT a reality.

Before I surrender the floor, I’d like to take this opportunity to commend the outgoing Director of Administration and a former Foreign Service colleague, John Sequeira, for his manifold contributions to the efforts of this organization.  We wish him and his family the best as they move on to a new chapter in their lives.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.