Statement By the United States of America to the Thirty-eighth Session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States delegation is pleased to take the floor at this meeting of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission, which is taking place under your capable leadership.  We congratulate you on your selection as Preparatory Commission Chair and look forward to working with you as we move forward.  We have much work to do across a broad spectrum of the activities of the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS), and we assure you of our full cooperation.  We also thank the Executive Secretary for his opening statement.

One of most important items of business we have before us is approving the recommendation of Working Group B regarding the venue for the Integrated Field Exercise in 2014 (IFE14).  A tremendous amount of preparatory work must be done to ensure the successful conduct of this exercise, including developing the scenario that will be used to test the On-Site Inspection (OSI) regime, planning logistics, acquiring and evaluating equipment, and conducting build-up exercises to test discrete elements of the overall OSI regime in preparation for IFE14.  While some of these preparations are not contingent on knowing where IFE14 will be held, many tasks with long lead-times require that the characteristics of the particular site be known before work can even begin.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of Working Group B, under Chair Hein Haak, to carefully evaluate the offers of Hungary, Ukraine, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to host IFE14.  We thank Hungary, Ukraine and Jordan for their generous offers – they are to be commended for having demonstrated a tangible commitment to the effort to develop the OSI regime.  Selecting a venue was not an easy task – each of the possible sites offered unique advantages.  The United States supports Working Group B’s recommendation that Jordan’s offer to host be accepted, and respectfully urges that a decision to accept Jordan’s offer be taken at this PrepCom meeting to ensure that there is adequate time to make the necessary preparations for IFE14.

Preparing for and executing IFE14 will require a concentrated effort from the PTS and States Signatories.  While States Signatories – particularly those with relevant OSI-related expertise – can and should play a robust role, it is important to remember that IFE14 is intended to test the OSI capability of the PTS, not just in terms of executing the work in the field but also in planning the logistics for an OSI deployment.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is famously fond of saying it takes a village to raise a child.  It will also take a village to successfully plan and conduct IFE14.

Mr. Chairman,

The other time-sensitive issue with which we are faced is the selection of the next Executive Secretary.  The CTBTO faces a number of significant challenges in the near- to mid-term that require continued world-class leadership of the PTS.  The best candidates will embody a mix of management skills, experience in multilateral diplomacy, and technical expertise.  The United States strongly believes that a smooth transition will be important, and that establishing at this meeting of the Preparatory Commission the process by which candidates may be nominated and a new Executive Secretary selected is necessary to ensure a timely and  seamless handoff in the summer of 2013.  We are grateful to our colleagues in the GRULAC for the thoughtful paper on this subject that they presented at the recent Working Group A meeting, to the Africa Group for their subsequent paper that expanded the concept, and to Malaysia’s Ambassador Yaakob for leading productive intersessional consultations that resulted in the formulation of a proposed mechanism for selecting the next Executive Secretary.  We would respectfully urge that a decision to adopt the mechanism developed under Ambassador Yaakob’s facilitation be taken at this meeting of the Preparatory Commission to ensure that there is adequate time to consider candidates and conduct consultations in advance of the October PrepCom, when we and a number of other delegations hope a decision on will be taken as to who will be appointed as the next Executive Secretary.   To provide the Preparatory Commission with a slate of worthy candidates, we encourage all States Signatories to nominate highly qualified individuals to fulfill the critical function of the Executive Secretary.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States commends the PTS for having produced a program-driven draft budget that reflects the tasks established by the States Signatories through the policy-making organs (PMOs).  We note that this has led to a proposed 2013 budget that would slightly exceed zero real growth.  As we noted at the recent Working Group A meeting, the PrepCom is still in the process of developing the verification regime, rather than simply maintaining and operating it.  While adherence to a zero real growth budget may be more tenable following completion of the International Monitoring System (IMS) and OSI components of the verification regime, it is difficult to see that it is a feasible approach at a time when the organization is simultaneously building out remaining elements of  the verification regime and maintaining existing ones.  With rising fixed costs, it is increasingly difficult for the PTS to operate under the artificial limitation of a zero real growth budget without hurting core activities.  The United States therefore supports the proposed 2013 draft budget, which provides adequate resources for completing the tasks established by States Signatories.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States has made clear in the past that the Advisory Group provides a valuable and essential service to the PTS and the PMOs.  The Advisory Group’s counsel often prompts us to stop and think a bit more carefully about what we are doing – or plan to do – and how we do it.  We support the UK’s nomination of Sir Michael Weston for another term as Chair of the Advisory Group.  Under his able chairmanship, the Advisory Group has provided the PMOs with insightful, much-needed advice on a number of important and thorny issues.  We would like nothing more than to see this excellent work continue.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States would like to recall the presentation to the most recent Working Group B on the effort to rebuild hydroacoustic station HA04 on Crozet Island.  We would like to reiterate our appreciation for the PTS’s excellent work on this important project, and to especially commend the outstanding efforts of the IMS Engineering and Development Section led by Mr. Patrick Grenard.  We are confident that the PTS has a carefully considered, feasible plan for completing the work on this project during the 2015-2016 Austral Summer.  We would note that the Work Plan for remaining elements of the project was finalized late last week, and that the remaining tranche of funds for this project was transferred yesterday to the PTS, so the essential elements necessary to enable the successful completion of this important reconstruction effort are now in place.  We look forward to continuing our work with the PTS and our French colleagues to successfully complete this project, which, together with the work well underway on the HA03 station, will bring the hydroacoustic network to full completion and provisional operation.  We hope that the rest of the “well-advanced” IMS will also reach that status soon.

Mr. Chairman,

We would like to briefly look ahead to the next meeting of Working Group B.  In addition to the considerable effort that must be made on OSI issues to prepare for IFE14, the group has much to do with respect to the incomplete IMS and International Data Centre (IDC).  The United States cannot overemphasize the importance of intersessional work – including using the Experts Communication System (ECS) and holding workshops – to help ensure that States Signatories and the PTS are prepared to constructively address issues at Working Group B.  ECS discussions can help frame the issues and highlight concerns so that parties are not caught unprepared when we come together to take decisions at Working Group B.  Workshops also provide an opportunity for experts to do much of the necessary spade work on technical issues that come before the PMOs for decision.  The “zero week” presentations by the PTS, together with the papers, presentations, and agendas put out in advance of Working Group B by the PTS, Task Leaders, and Expert Group Chairs, are valuable tools with which experts may prepare for Working Group B, and with which their capitals may arm their delegations with useful instructions.  The more we make use of these tools, the more effective and efficient we can be in our work at meetings here in Vienna.  We all understand that many of the issues discussed here are difficult and that delegations sometimes must consult with their capitals before they can join consensus or offer alternatives.  When delegations cite the need to do such homework between meetings, others may reasonably expect that the “homework” will be completed by the next meeting.  We recall that on two important, long-standing issues – radionuclide filters and IMS station coordinate changes – delegations that had specific concerns about those issues indicated that further analysis by experts in their respective capitals was necessary.   We look forward to seeing the results of that expert analysis, and to the constructive impact that that work will have on those issues.

In closing, I wish to reiterate that as the U.S. Administration continues engaging the U.S. Senate on the benefits for the United States of ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, we remain optimistic about the prospects for successful U.S. ratification of this essential Treaty and its eventual entry into force.  We wish to thank you, Ambassador Labbe, for your work as Preparatory Commission Chair, Ambassador Enkhsaikhan for his efforts as Chair of Working Group A, and Dr. Hein Haak for his stewardship of Working Group B.  Your work is much appreciated by your colleagues in this room and has constituted a valuable contribution to the effort to fulfill the PrepCom’s mandate.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.