U.S. Statement to CTBTO


Counselor for Arms Control Tamara K. Fitzgerald

Vienna, Austria

August 19, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

It gives me great pleasure to take the floor for the first time for this 41st session of Working Group B.  I would like to thank the Friends of the Chair, Dr. Mykkeltveit and Dr. McCormack, for your able leadership during Dr. Haak’s absence.  As always, the United States has come prepared to support you and to work collaboratively with other delegations and the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) to accomplish the tasks outlined in the agenda and to set the course for our work in the coming years.

We welcome Dr. Zerbo as he begins his term as Executive Secretary and we look forward to his leadership and vision.  We are pleased to see that Dr. Zerbo’s very first trip abroad as Executive Secretary was a success, with China’s reaffirmation of support and plans to provide data to the International Data Centre (IDC) from Chinese International Monitoring System (IMS) stations.

This is an important moment for the CTBTO Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) in general, and specifically for this working group and the PTS.  We have an opportunity for revitalization with a new Executive Secretary, a new Medium Term Plan on the horizon, and, hopefully, a new three-year program of work for Joint Working Groups A & B.  The United States has high expectations.  We expect the PTS to operate effectively, efficiently and responsively as it performs its mission.  We also expect that the PrepCom will be equally effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the PTS as we fulfill our oversight function and provide the policy and technical guidance and resources necessary for the PTS to be successful.  My Delegation encourages our new Executive Secretary to be direct with Working Group B, especially regarding the need for clear, prioritized policy guidance on the development of the annual program of work for the Organization.  We expect to hear from the Executive Secretary exactly how a lack of clear guidance, a lack of prioritization, and a lack of resources would impact the mandate of the PrepCom and the ability of the PTS to perform its mission.

Mr. Chairman,

With new leadership comes an opportunity to reenergize Working Group B efforts to ensure that we are organized appropriately to fulfill the PrepCom’s mandate.  Perhaps it’s time for a self-assessment of how well we are executing our own Working Group B annual program of work.  Our delegations gather in Vienna to oversee PTS execution of the monitoring and verification elements of the annual program of work, to establish clear, unambiguous policies and priorities, to discern and resolve technical issues, and to enable the PTS to do its job.  We do not seek to micromanage the PTS.  Instead, we strive for Working Group B to provide leadership as we all make steady, reliable and visible progress toward our shared responsibility of fulfilling the PrepCom mandate.

Mr. Chairman,

At a time when the Organization is in the throes of finalizing the plans to execute a significantly large and complicated event, the OSI Integrated Field Exercise, it is important to consider what is at stake and to work together to seek out the best path to reach our goals.  The central goal of the exercise is to conduct a technically and scientifically credible exercise that substantively contributes to the refinement of the OSI regime.  Making the CTBT verification regime an operational reality is a task fundamental to our mandate.  Allocating our energy, time, and budget resources in a way that best achieves completion of the verification regime is essential for promoting the Treaty’s entry into force.  Completing the preparations for IFE-14 will require resources, including the time and the dedicated work of experts from State Signatories here in Vienna and at many other locations.  And we cannot lose sight of the work yet to be done on other aspects of the verification regime.  Much remains to be done, and the United States stands ready to engage with other delegations and the PTS in accomplishing that work.  As Working Group B considers the proposed shortened schedule for its 2014 sessions, it is essential that we recognize that if it is going to be done right, our work cannot be rushed and tasks cannot be pushed aside.  While we strive for efficiency, we must also be careful that we do not limit our scope or our effectiveness.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States continues to believe and strongly recommends that a program-driven budget is the most appropriate way to provide the PrepCom with the necessary resources to fulfill its mandate.  In this regard, we will be interested in reviewing the verification elements of the revised 2014 PTS-proposed Program of Work in light of the PrepCom mandate and the new PTS Medium Term Plan.  We appreciate the briefings and efforts by the PTS to keep States informed on the budget process.  We join with other States to encourage the PTS to research cost saving measures and to explain the impact of such measures to States.  For example, we also share the concern of many States regarding rising Post Certification Activity costs and the state of the capital investment funds.  However, we need to be able to discuss alternatives and proposed solutions rather than lament the state of the finances.  The new version of the Medium Term Plan that the PTS is preparing will be pivotal as we consider the tasks that need to be carried out to complete the verification regime, along with the necessary time and budget resources.

Mr. Chairman,

We have before us at this session of WGB a rather standard agenda.  Our schedule is dominated correctly by consideration of issues related to the On-Site Inspection (OSI) element of the verification regime.  This is the appropriate focus given the state of technical maturity of OSI, the legitimate national security concerns associated with OSI, and the pending 2014 OSI Integrated Field Exercise.  We must not lose sight of the goal, which is to have the entire verification system ready at entry into force of the Treaty.

First, to the Executive Secretary and to the other members of the PTS staff, the U.S. Delegation would like to assure you that we remain vitally interested in all aspects of the verification regime and the work that each Division and section of the PTS does to ensure that the regime can demonstrate its full performance before entry into force.  The growing effectiveness of the CTBT monitoring system was demonstrated by the prompt and professional handling of the most recent DPRK nuclear test in February of this year.  The attention that has been focused on IMS data and IDC products at that time and in the months since the event highlights the fact that data availability and station reliability continue to be essential.

Second, to the Executive Secretary and to the OSI Division, the U.S. Delegation would like to assure you that we recognize that your work will not decrease following the successful conclusion of the IFE.  In fact, it may well increase as you lay out a new Action Plan to capitalize on our shared successes and to address our shared shortcomings.  In terms of shared successes and shortcomings, we look forward during this session of WGB to an assessment of both the results of the OSI Build-up Exercise III and the proposed evaluation concept for IFE-14.  The United States view is that the evaluation should assess progress in the development of the OSI element of the verification regime since the 2008 Integrated Field Exercise in Kazakhstan, taking into account the lessons learned from the various Build-up Exercises in preparation for IFE-14.  But the evaluation also must assess the level of preparedness or readiness of the Preparatory Commission to conduct an actual OSI as if the Treaty were in force during the 2014 exercise.  My Delegation acknowledges that the entire OSI system is not being tested.  Therefore, any evaluation statement on preparedness, operational capabilities and progress toward OSI readiness must only be seen as applying to the components being tested.

Mr. Chairman,

We can look back with pride at the PrepCom’s accomplishments so far, and use  them to inspire a proactive and energetic impetus as we continue to move forward.  At this session, the United States looks forward to addressing these important issues with a new vitality.  We are confident that under your skillful leadership, we will be able to make progress in reaching solutions that are equitable and that advance the important agenda of further developing the CTBT verification regime.

In closing, my Delegation would like to express our appreciation for the work of the Director of Administration, Ms. Frannie Boyle, as this is her last WGB session.  Ms. Boyle brought a great deal of experience to the position in the workings of the CTBTO and other international organizations.  We extend our thanks for her service and leadership.