Statement by the United States to the Eighteenth Joint Meeting of CTBTO Working Groups A and B
Thank you, Chairmen. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to take the floor under your leadership during this joint meeting of Working Groups A and B.
During 2011, through extensive and spirited consultations under the able guidance of Ambassador Guerreiro, we achieved agreement on a mechanism to fund an on-site inspection Integrated Field Exercise in 2014. Much hard work and careful thinking – and not a little negotiation and compromise – was necessary to achieve a consensus agreement on this important issue. I’d like to note here that while there was reluctance in some quarters to engage in an open discussion of various funding formulations, the United States viewed the candid debate as a healthy exercise. While the anticipated financial outlays are significant, tasks such as IFE14 and the buildup exercises leading to it are essential if we are to successfully carry out the mandate of the PrepCom. In our view, it is vitally important that this meeting of the WGB formulate a recommendation to the upcoming Preparatory Commission regarding the venue in which IFE14 should be held.
The mechanism for underwriting the special assessment for IFE14 allows States Signatories to choose various means of making the payment – the United States has opted to pay its entire special assessment in a single tranche from the 2009 surplus. While respecting the right of other States Signatories to pursue different payment options, we think – and we noted this several times in the course of negotiations on IFE14 funding – that there are important benefits to having as much funding as possible in hand at the beginning of the IFE14 cycle. An important reason for that is to afford the PTS flexibility to respond to contingencies, and to move quickly to secure arrangements when and where it is appropriate to do so. We trust that the PTS will continue, as it did during the 2011 discussions, to reevaluate its cost projections, to seek contributions in kind, to provide regular briefings to States Signatories, and to be judicious stewards of the hard-fought IFE14 funding.
While focusing resources and attention on the IFE14 undertaking, it is important that we not allow other elements of our work to suffer through neglect. We have made substantial investments in the International Monitoring System and the International Data Centre – it is critically important that we protect those outlays and maintain momentum in the effort to complete a fully operational CTBT verification regime to deliver to the first Conference of States Parties.
In that regard, it is important that we have set out a credible path to fulfill the mandate to prepare a fully operational verification regime. The Medium Term Plan that the PTS regularly updates and sets before us at these meetings offers important waypoints at which to assess our progress. In preparing the draft program and budget, it is incumbent on the PTS to clearly identify the resources needed to accomplish the tasks with which it has already been charged by States Signatories, and to highlight additional resources needed to meet new requirements. We do not want to resource tasks so that we only get some of what we want while driving the PTS staff to an early grave. We greatly value their hard work, and we want to be sure that the organization is able to deliver sustainable results over the long term based on a budget that is program-driven. For its part, the United States will view the 2013 draft program and budget through that lens, and not from the perspective of trying to achieve – if only on paper – an arbitrary goal such as zero real growth.
We are all painfully aware of the prevailing climate of budget austerity in which we operate. But we should also recall that as we collectively worked through the process of formulating a funding mechanism for IFE14, the PTS was in fact able to identify efficiencies by carefully reviewing elements of its proposed budget. None of those were easy decisions, and some represented items that various elements held dear. Nonetheless, efficiencies and savings were identified that allowed the Organization and States Signatories to fund the IFE14 exercise that had been collectively judged to be a priority. Having said that, we need to seriously consider the prospect that, in the course of “scrubbing” the budget for IFE14, we have likely recognized most of the possible major savings and efficiencies.
It is increasingly important that we take full stock of the tasks remaining to fulfill our mandate. We have noted before that we have fully completed about a quarter of the required tasks, have roughly a quarter that are “near completion” (some have been in that status for some time), and fully half that are far from complete. We need to identify those items that are likely to require the most lead time (such as installing IMS stations in very challenging environments); those that require extensive experience (such as developing the operations and maintenance infrastructure and processes that can maintain high data availability); and those that entail extensive research and planning, even if the tasks themselves are of brief duration (such as IFE14 or systemwide performance tests of the IMS and IDC). We need to know what tasks must be completed before other necessary tasks can be undertaken. We need to be able to assess this information to develop both the short term and the longer term budget profiles. From our perspective, the only reason to avoid taking comprehensive stock of where we are and what remains would be if we don’t really want to know the answer.
In closing, I wish to reiterate here that the United States’ commitment to the important work of this body remains undiminished, and will continue so. Our voluntary contributions over the course of the last year are a testament to the depth of that commitment, but more importantly, we have begun the process of engaging the U.S. Senate to discuss the benefits of ratification. We remain optimistic about the prospects for the CTBT’s entry into force, albeit mindful that achieving that worthy goal will require considerable effort. My delegation looks forward to continuing to work closely with all of you here in that effort.
Thank you, Chairmen.