Statement by the United States to the Thirty-Eighth Session of CTBTO Working Group B

Delivered by U.S. Mission Counselor for Arms Control John Godfrey (February 16, 2012)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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 Indonesia and Guatemala for having ratified the CTBT since the last Working Group B meeting.  Their ratifications underscore the international norm against nuclear testing, an important condition for the goal of advancing toward a world free of nuclear weapons.  I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the new International Monitoring System Division Director, Vorian Maryssael – we look forward to working closely with her and her team as we work to build the remaining elements of the IMS.  I’d also like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your re-election as WGB Chair – we look forward to continuing to work with you going forward.

Before addressing the issues before Working Group B, I want to note that U.S. experts appreciated once again the opportunity to view the online presentations before coming to this meeting.  We think this aspect of our method of work has proven useful, and that it continues to improve.

Turning to the agenda for this Working Group B, perhaps the most significant matter before us this year is the planning for IFE14.  We are all aware that this will be a large exercise requiring the devotion of significant resources of time and effort to complete the necessary preparatory work.  We know that the PTS and the Expert Advisory Mechanism have already been working hard on the planning for this important exercise.

At this meeting of Working Group B, we have before us the very important question of the venue for IFE14.  The United States expresses its appreciation to those countries that have put forward generous offers to host IFE14 – Hungary, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Ukraine.  We appreciate the efforts that the PTS has undertaken to evaluate the prospective locations, and the briefings that delegations have been given on what the PTS has learned about each site.  Each site has unique advantages and disadvantages, and many factors will need to be considered.  Cost will of course be a vital concern.  But we must also consider what opportunities each potential location has for testing various aspects of OSI.  Perhaps we would wish to take on the challenge of rapid staging of the equipment and personnel into the field by showing that arrangements for transport to a remote location can be successfully put in place on short notice.  We need also to consider potential limitations that each location might have with respect to carrying out various OSI techniques; for example, can radioactive sources be brought in for exercising the radionuclide techniques, or can explosives be used for active seismic techniques?  We might also want to consider the environment; while it is undoubtedly true, for example, that many nuclear explosions have been carried out in arid regions, many have not – and we have no idea where a future ambiguous event calling for an OSI might occur.

We look forward to a thorough discussion of the candidate sites.  We are under no illusions that all of us here will find any one of them to be, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.   However, given the need to crystallize our planning for this exercise and the short timelines involved, it is imperative that we formulate a recommendation to the PrepCom regarding the venue for IFE14.  The United States delegation is fully committed to reaching such a recommendation, is prepared to demonstrate flexibility to do so, and looks forward to continuing constructive consultations with the PTS and States Signatories on this issue.

Turning to another matter, while the United States appreciates the obvious effort that the PTS put into the draft validation and acceptance plan for the International Data Centre, we feel that it was in the end only a partial plan.  As we noted in the comments that we posted to the ECS, we feel that the draft was lacking in some important aspects.  It focused a great deal – perhaps too much – on verifying the conformance of the IDC to the IDC operational manual.  While conformance with the IDC operational manual is an important requirement, it is not sufficient to validate and accept the IDC.  It is not enough to show that the IDC meets our design specifications as set forth in the IDC operational manual, an aspect that was amply addressed in the PTS draft.  We must also address the testing and evaluation needed to validate that the IDC performs as intended, and that it adequately serves the monitoring and verification goals of the Member States.  In our view, more attention needs to be given to this facet of testing and evaluation as we move forward.

Mr. Chairman – At the Thirty-Seventh Session of Working Group B, the United States announced a voluntary, in-kind contribution of $8.9 million to the Preparatory Commission to fund a series of projects to enhance and accelerate the development of the CTBT verification regime.  We are pleased to say that many of these projects are underway in coordination with the PTS.

One of the projects involves providing the IDC with regional seismic travel time models for Noth America and Eurasia and software to make use of these new models in IDC seismic data processing.  This is generally known by the acronym RSTT.  One of the most vexing problems facing seismic monitoring is integrating teleseismic data collected at distances of 1,000 kilometers or more from the event with regional data collected from closer stations.  The complex structure of the Earth’s crust strongly affects regional seismic data while teleseismic data is less affected.  The detailed travel time models that are part of RSTT provide an efficient means of addressing this issue.  The RSTT software package was made available for broad use last September, immediately following the last Working Group B meeting.  Our experts have been working with the PTS so that they can install and make use of this software.

At the last Working Group B meeting, we also announced that the United States had entered into an agreement to provide up to $25.5 million to underwrite the re-installation of hydroacoustic station HA04.  We look forward to hearing from the marine consultants and from the PTS their report on the feasibility and design study that was undertaken since the last Working Group B.  We anticipate that the results of this study will enable the project to move forward to a more detailed design effort and ultimately to the procurement, installation, and certification of HA04.  Successful completion of this project will mark a major milestone for this body in meeting its mandate, as it will make one of the four IMS networks complete and operational, leaving completion of the primary and auxiliary seismic networks, the infrasound network, the radionuclide network and the on-site inspection regime still open tasks in the mandate of the PrepCom.


Mr. Chairman – The United States recalls that in August 2009, you and the then-chair of WGA, Ambassador Rimdap, put forward your joint vision for the work programs of both WGA and WGB in the paper CTBT/JAB-11/INF.3/Rev.1.  As we review the items put forward for WGB, we are frankly concerned that we have failed to excel.  There are items for which we have already missed the stated goals, such as considering a 24/7 maintenance response for selected IMS stations by January 2011 with expansions of the number of stations in 2012 and 2013.  Another item “Develop a definition of the criteria of the program of receipt and acceptance by the States Signatories of the system (IMS, IDC, OSI) maintained by the PTS to support the verification regime needed at the entry into force of the Treaty,” which was to have been completed by the end of 2011, is also behind schedule.  While I could spend more time going through the list, enumerating the tasks and our status on them, I think it better that we take stock as a group of where we stand on these goals and consider how we can meet our objective of completing all the tasks by the end of this year, as you and Ambassador Rimdap challenged us to do.  If we fail to meet the challenge, it is hard to see how we can say that all of the WGB’s work can be adequately addressed in two three-week meetings each year?  We would like your views on how we can complete the tasks you and Ambassador Rimdap identified by the end of this year.

Mr. Chairman, we wish to thank you for your work in leading the efforts of this Working Group B meeting.  The United States wishes to reiterate its commitment to the CTBT and its support for the CTBTO, and 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.