Statement by U.S. Delegation at the Joint Plenary Session of Working Group A and Working Group B
April 2, 2013
My delegation is pleased to take the floor under your joint leadership of the twentieth joint meeting of Working Groups A and B. We assure you of our continued cooperation and support as we work to complete the preparations necessary for the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Completing those preparations requires resources. Those resources include meeting time and the dedicated work of experts from States Signatories. The reduced meeting time during this WGB has meant we have all had to work with greater efficiency to responsibly address the very full agenda. While we understand the combination of factors that led to the schedule for this WGB, we sincerely hope to avoid this problem in the future. In addition, all of us are aware of the prevailing climate of fiscal austerity. That, too, makes it harder for us to carry out our mandate.
The position of the United States with respect to the budget has been consistent since this Preparatory Commission began its work and remains unchanged. We support a program-driven budget that emphasizes completion of the CTBT verification regime.
There is a view among some States Signatories that the prospects for the entry into force of the Treaty should be a factor in determining the program of work and its associated budget. While the United States understands some of the logic behind that rationale, we respectfully take a different view: completing the verification regime actually enhances the prospects for entry into force. Rather than permitting the prospects for entry into force to become a reason to spend less, do less, and procrastinate in fulfilling our mandate, we think that allocating our energy, time, and budget resources in the way that most efficiently completes the verification regime is the best way to promote the Treaty’s entry into force. The reason for that is straightforward: persuading States Signatories to ratify the CTBT entails convincing their leaders that the CTBT can be effectively verified. That means demonstrating that the CTBT verification regime – the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre and the On-Site Inspection component – works.
In this regard, I’d like to avail myself of the Brazilian Ambassador’s kind invitation to engage in a dialogue about the 2014 budget and the call for zero nominal growth. The reality is that adhering to a zero nominal growth budget will make it impossible to protect the investments in existing IMS facilities. That is the reality and we do not expect that to change.
To complete the verification regime, we need to do a better job of defining for the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) the real priorities for the organization, and we need to do a better job in helping the PTS find efficiencies and cost savings.
The United States has repeatedly called for a comprehensive list of the tasks that need to be carried out to complete the verification regime, along with the necessary time and budget resources. Such an analysis would be a useful tool for establishing priorities and identifying potential further efficiencies. We do ourselves no favors with respect to completing the Treaty’s verification regime by making poor decisions on priorities, or by pursuing short-term savings at the expense of larger long-term costs.
As we noted in our statement at the opening of the Working Group B session, we would suggest that the PTS provide more detailed information at an earlier juncture in the annual budget formulation process. Doing so would facilitate a more constructive dialogue between the PTS and States Signatories about program and budget priorities, improving the prospects of support for the PTS’s proposals. It would also help mitigate unwelcome surprises, such as the request late last year for a budget increase.
In addition to developing the program of work and budget for 2014, the PTS will soon engage in the development of the next iteration of its Medium Term Plan, an important tool for States Signatories’ in setting priorities and making resource decisions. We encourage the PTS to lay out in detail its multiyear plans and programs, perhaps in a manner similar to the multiyear on-site inspection Action Plan, and to include for consideration by States Signatories notional multiyear budgets for multiyear projects. In that regard, we would respectfully note that perhaps the time has come for the PrepCom to adopt the Medium Term Plan as the basis for its annual guidance to the PTS. We also encourage the Chairmen of WGA and WGB to take into consideration the Medium Term Plan as they develop their respective visions for the next three years of work to be undertaken by the WGA and WGB.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.