U.S. Statement to the Joint Session of Working Groups A and B
August 26, 2013
My delegation is pleased to take the floor under your joint leadership of the twenty-first joint meeting of Working Groups A and B. As always, my delegation stands ready to fully cooperate with and support this body as it moves forward in accordance with the mandate of the Preparatory Commission. This mandate is to complete the preparations necessary for the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Completing these preparations requires resources, and over the past year we have seen further obstacles imposed to the effective provision of those resources. In particular, the proposed reduction of the coming session of Working Group B from three to two weeks will put considerable pressure on States Signatories at a time when we are focused on conducting one of the largest events, Integrated Field Exercise-14 (IFE14), that the PrepCom will undertake. And, as always, it is not just the limits of time, but also of budgets, that complicate the effort of the PrepCom in attempting to carry out its mandate.
The position of the United States remains unchanged with respect to the budget of the PrepCom. We support a program-driven budget, focused on accomplishing the mandate of the Organization, which is the completion of the verification regime of the Treaty.
We have heard the view expressed by many States Signatories that the prospects for the entry into force of the Treaty are a negative factor in determining the program of work and its associated budget. The United States understands this view, but we have a different perspective: completion of the verification regime will actually enhance the prospects for entry into force. For States Signatories moving towards ratification, a completed, or nearly completed verification regime, adequate to ensuring compliance with the basic obligation of the Treaty, can be a powerful argument in favor of ratification. So, rather than the prospects for entry into force being a driver to spend less, do less, and procrastinate in carrying out our mandate, they should be driving us to complete the verification regime sooner.
The United States also believes that we, the States Signatories, bear great responsibility in defining for the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) what the priorities are for the Organization. In addition, we all must do a better job of helping the PTS find efficiencies and cost savings. The United States has pointed to the need to conduct a thorough review to identify the tasks which need to be carried out to complete the verification regime, including the associated time and budgetary resources. Such a review would be an essential tool to set these priorities and find any efficiencies. We do ourselves a great disservice by establishing flawed priorities or focusing on short-sighted cost efficiencies.
During the May meeting of Working Group A, the PTS presented a report that identified higher-than-expected annual estimated maintenance costs related to the implementation of the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP). In presenting these higher estimated costs, the PTS also outlined the penalties and losses that would be associated with any decision to end or delay implementation of the program. While we share the concerns of many States Signatories regarding the increased cost estimates, we believe that ending or delaying the project is not justified and would be detrimental in the long run.
In addition to developing the program of work and budget for 2014, the PTS has just issued its new Medium Term Strategy, another important tool for States Signatories to use in setting priorities and making resource decisions. The U.S. appreciates the PTS laying out in detail its multiyear plans and programs in the MTS. Perhaps it should do likewise in the 2014 budget as well, in a manner similar to the multiyear OSI Action Plan, and, in so doing, include for consideration by Signatories multiyear budgets for multiyear projects. Perhaps the time has come for the PrepCom to adopt, after due consideration, the Medium Term Strategy as the basis for its yearly guidance to the PTS in the execution of that Strategy. We also encourage the Chairmen of WGs A and B to take into consideration the Medium Term Strategy as they develop their vision for the next three years of the work to be accomplished by these two bodies.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.