Statement by The United States of America to the Forty-Second Session of Working Group B

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to take the floor on behalf of the United States for the 42nd session of Working Group B (WGB).  As always, our delegation looks forward to another productive session and to advancing the critical mission of this Treaty.  First, Mr. Chairman, let me take this opportunity to say it is a welcome sight to have you back in the Chair.  It was a pleasure to see you at the last Preparatory Commission and to know that we would be able to rely once again on your leadership at this session of WGB.  We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new Preparatory Commission Chairman, Ambassador Ozawa, and the new Working Group A Chairman, Ambassador Abdul Azeez.  We look forward to working closely with them on important issues of the budget and strategic direction in the coming years.

We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Executive Secretary’s remarks and congratulate him on a great start to his tenure.  Since taking the helm in August of last year, Dr. Zerbo has been a tireless advocate for the Treaty and the technical capabilities of the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS).  One of his early successes was receiving a commitment from China to provide data to the International Data Centre (IDC) from Chinese International Monitoring System (IMS) stations, and we were pleased to hear that the PTS has started receiving data from those stations as of last month.  We sincerely thank our Chinese colleagues who have taken this important step to demonstrate their commitment to the Treaty.  We join others in looking forward to the improvements to IDC products that will result from the inclusion of data from these stations.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States appreciates receiving the PTS’s Midterm Strategy for 2014-2017 and we largely concur with the streamlined strategic goals laid out in this document.  We also agree that a key challenge for the next four years will be the sustainability of a cost effective and financially viable verification regime, especially in a continuing environment of global financial austerity.  However, it is important that we resist the allure of arbitrary budget cuts or artificial funding limits.  As we have advocated before, these challenges will require a much greater level of transparency and deliberation so that concrete proposals can be evaluated against Treaty requirements, the PrepCom mandate, and any potential drawbacks.  In this vein, we welcome the outcome of the most recent PrepCom, which called for more transparency in the program and budget process as well as additional consultations with States Signatories.  Now it will be incumbent upon the States Signatories to participate in this process in a constructive manner.

The United States continues to believe, and strongly recommends, a program-driven budget as the most appropriate way to provide the PrepCom with the resources necessary to fulfilling its mandate.  States Signatories have made a significant investment in the verification system.  Any additional arbitrary budget cuts directly threaten to undermine the core functionality of the system.  In this regard, we are pleased to see operation and sustainment of the verification system as the first strategic goal for the Midterm Strategy, meaning the protection and enhanced sustainment of IMS and IDC operations, as well as the expansion of appropriate systems and capabilities as two focus areas.  This is the bread and butter of the verification system and critical to the technical credibility of the Organization.  We also note the importance the technology refreshment process will play in this strategy, and we look forward to further updates from the PTS on how new technologies will improve the verification system and also promote cost efficiency.

Mr. Chairman,

The Midterm Strategy, we believe, also correctly focuses on the development of on-site inspection (OSI) operational capabilities as a second strategic goal.  This recognizes not only the importance of the upcoming Integrated Field Exercise (IFE14) to be held at the end of this year in Jordan, but also a desire to maintain the momentum generated by the IFE to develop on-site inspections—a critical strategic goal to ensure that the entire verification regime is ready at entry into force of the Treaty.  United States experts are looking forward to participating in a robust and realistic IFE14 and building upon the lessons learned from the 2008 IFE in Kazakhstan and previous Build-up Exercises.  These exercises provide an important opportunity to test the current OSI regime and learn what works well and what doesn’t.  Consistent testing and reevaluation are critical components to enable the strengthening of this pillar of the verification regime and they further enhance the technical credibility of the entire Organization.

As evidence of our continued commitment to strengthening the verification regime, last September the United States made a voluntary, extra-budgetary pledge of $3.5 million dollars to the CTBTO.  The largest part of this donation will be devoted to supporting preparations for IFE14 in Jordan.  These donations are in addition to the significant contribution of time and effort from U.S. technical experts—many of whom are in this room right now—to ensure that IFE14 is as scientifically credible and comprehensive as possible.  Taken together, these efforts demonstrate the continued commitment of the United States to the completion of the CTBT verification regime, and to the Treaty’s eventual entry into force.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, the United States would like to take this opportunity to once again welcome you back and extend our best wishes for a fruitful and productive session of WGB.  The agenda is meaty and our delegations should expect to achieve significant outcomes.  This is a tall order in only two weeks, but the United States stands ready to work closely with the PTS and other delegations as we strive to complete a robust and credible verification regime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.