U.S. Statement to CTBTO’s Working Group B

Preperatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)

John Godfrey, Counselor for Arms Control, U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna

August 13, 2012
Vienna Austria 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

I would first like to offer on behalf of the people of the United States our deepest condolences to the people of Iran with respect to the terrible earthquakes that recently occurred there.

I am pleased to take the floor on behalf of the United States.  Our delegation looks forward to another productive session of Working Group B under the able leadership of you, your friends, the task leaders, and the chairs of the various experts’ groups.  I’d like to begin by offering congratulations to the new Preparatory Commission Chair, Ambassador Dengo – we look forward to working closely with her and her team for the remainder of the year, in which the important issues of the budget and selection of a new Executive Secretary will be taken up.

Turning to the agenda for this Working Group B, my delegation is struck by the fact that this is the first Working Group B meeting in several years that is not overshadowed by an obvious exigent issue: the annual meeting schedule; the IFE14 budget; selection of the IFE14 venue; etc.  While we may be tempted to take our foot off the accelerator and cruise a bit, we would contend that the absence of an apparent “crisis” issue is a bit misleading.  There are a number of longer-term, strategic issues with which the PMOs must contend: planning and executing IFE14, simultaneously rebuilding the HA03 and HA04 stations; and undertaking technology refreshment and the buildout of the remaining International Monitoring System (IMS) components, to name but a few.  We were heartened by the PTS’s focus on those issues in last week’s informal briefings, and would hope that we can use the absence of a galvanizing issue to focus in earnest on the less high-profile, but no less important “macro issues” that will frame the PrepCom’s work over the next several years.

Earlier this year, the PrepCom made the important decision to accept the offer of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to serve as the venue for IFE14.  This was an essential step needed to move forward with the considerable effort required to plan and execute this exercise.  This will not be a simple or easy task … but it is important to remember that it is not intended to be.  IFE14 is supposed to be a demonstration and a test: A demonstration of the on-site inspection (OSI) regime – one of the pillars of the CTBT verification system – and a test of that pillar’s efficacy.  In that regard, IFE14 is not just a test of the people, equipment, procedures, and policies we will deploy in the field in 2014, but also a test of the current state of development of the OSI regime.  Properly executed, it should show which elements of the OSI regime work, and the areas in which work remains to be done prior to the Treaty’s entry into force.  And here I would note that there are just four sessions of Working Group B – and that includes the session currently underway – before IFE14 is to take place.

Many have concerns about whether IFE14 will be a “success” and what the consequences of “failure” might be.  I would urge that we not think of this exercise in terms of failure, since the worst possible “failure” would be to not have an IFE at all.  All lessons learned should be valued for their potential to help advance us towards our ultimate goal – an effective verification system.  It is through such testing that we find out what works very well, what works less well, and what doesn’t work at all.  We are always delighted when things work well, but the fact is that when we find things that don’t work as expected, it gives us the opportunity to make adjustments so that they do work as intended when the need arises.  The United States believes that the true measure of “success” for IFE14 is that the exercise be as realistic as possible in order to accurately demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the OSI regime.

In order to have a successful IFE, the PMOs will need to apply themselves to make progress on core OSI issues.  Of particular importance is the OSI operational manual, which must have an operational focus that sufficiently prescribes how an on-site inspection is carried out by trained inspectors in the field and the interaction of the CTBTO with the Inspected State Party.  It must define procedures in a clear, concise way so that participants in an OSI, or an IFE, can effectively and efficiently accomplish the inspection activities articulated in the Treaty, its Protocol, and the Inspection Mandate.  We must continue the important work of defining the requirements and specifications for OSI equipment with an eye towards having equipment available for training and testing, in particular for use during IFE14.  We must also come to resolution on other outstanding issues critical to the conduct of an inspection, such as finalizing the list of relevant radionuclides for OSI.  It is hard to specify what equipment to use without actually knowing what you will be using it to look for.

It is essential that we States Signatories make good progress on settling these issues in order to set the stage for a robust and useful IFE14.  Lack of progress will hinder PTS planning efforts for the exercise, surrogate inspector training, and the development of the exercise scenario.  If States Signatories do not do our part, we may very well end up with a “triple-blind” test in which the participants don’t know what they’re looking for, the scenario team doesn’t know what is supposed to have happened, and the States Signatories have no idea of what is being tested.  The United States looks forward to continuing its close collaboration with States Signatories and the PTS to prevent that unhappy scenario from coming to pass by supporting the immediate needs of IFE14, and by bolstering the broader mandate of the PrepCom.

We continue to have difficulties before this body related to station relocations.  Regarding the relocation of IS25, it was nearly decided at the last Working Group B, until a State indicated that it could not agree until a group of their experts, who they said had been assembled, had reviewed the matter.  I’m sure that I speak for a number of other delegations in the room in expressing hope that we will hear the results of this review so that we can finally dispose of this issue.  We understand that a proposal may also be made at this WGB meeting to change the station coordinates for RN62.  We look forward to hearing the justification for that proposed change, and to a timely consideration of it by WGB and the PrepCom.

Again, at this Working Group B, there will be a great deal of time devoted to the waveform, radionuclide, and the joint/fusion experts groups. Judging by the agendas of these groups, I can see that they have a great deal of work planned, and we look forward to seeing the results of their efforts, which are vital to the development of the CTBT verification regime.

Mr. Chair, the United States continues to attach great importance to the completion of the CTBT verification and monitoring regime.  In 2011, the United States made a voluntary, extra-budgetary pledge of 8.9 million dollars to fund contribution-in-kind (“CiK”) projects designed to accelerate development of the CTBT verification regime.  Projects ranged from the Regional Seismic Travel Time (RSTT) software and earth models to deployment of the Transportable Xenon Laboratory to continue efforts to characterize the background of radioxenon in the atmosphere.  They also included support for auxiliary seismic stations, work on infrasound stations, and OSI trainers.  I am pleased to say that in July of this year, the United States pledged an additional 7.5 million dollars worth of CiK projects to the PrepCom.  Some of these are continuations of projects initiated under the 2011 pledge, but many are new.  Several will support IFE14, but a number of projects will support the IMS and IDC.  In addition to significant contributions in the form of technical expertise and monetary contributions, the United States has worked over the past several years to eliminate our previous assessed contribution arrears.  Taken together, these efforts demonstrate the commitment of the United States to the completion of the CTBT verification and monitoring regime, and to the Treaty’s eventual entry into force.

Mr. Chairman, we wish to thank you for your work in leading the efforts of this Working Group B meeting.  The United States very much looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with the PTS, the PMOs and other States Signatories as we move forward with completing a fully functional verification and monitoring regime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman