U.S. Statement to 17th Joint Meeting of Working Groups A & B

John T. Godfrey

Counselor for Arms Control
U.S. Permanent Mission to International Organizations in Vienna

Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria

September 5, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My delegation is pleased to take the floor in this seventeenth joint meeting of Working Groups A and B.  We look forward to working under the joint guidance of you and the Chair of Working Group (A/B).

As is often the case for such joint meetings, the primary focus of our discussions is the Draft Programme and Budget for 2012.

In our statement to Working Group B, I recalled that the United States continues to favor a program-driven budget.  That budget should in turn support a plan of work designed to complete the preparations necessary for implementing the CTBT; in other words, for fulfilling the mandate of the Preparatory Commission by establishing a fully operational verification regime.

All of us are keenly aware of the prevailing climate of fiscal austerity in capitals around the world.  Put simply, budgets are tight everywhere.  With this in mind, the policy-making organs need to establish priorities and have a clear-eyed vision of which tasks are essential and deserving of limited resources, and which are not.

Those budgetary constraints place an additional fiduciary burden on us.  With limited resources, we must be cost efficient, but also avoid being penny wise and pound foolish.  Delaying certain tasks now may only make them more expensive in the future, when they will have to be undertaken with greater haste and higher risks.  In that vein, we cannot allow investments made in hardware and in developing experienced personnel to degrade for lack of maintenance or activities that maintain skill sets.

An important task is rebuilding the HA04/Crozet Island hydro acoustic station.  To that end, I am pleased to announce that we have just concluded with the PTS a Memorandum of Understanding for the United States to provide a contribution of up to $25.5 million to underwrite the project to rebuild the HA04/Crozet Island station, which will complete the hydro acoustic network.  With the recently announced U.S. voluntary-in-kind contribution of $8.9 million to support the accelerated development of the CTBT verification regime, U.S. extra-budgetary contributions to the CTBTO this year total $34.4 million.  Those contributions underscore the vital importance the United States attaches to the CTBT, and to completing the verification regime.

Looking at the broad budget picture should prompt us to look for synergistic benefits that arise from what we do to fulfill our mandate.  What I mean by that is that when activities integral to fulfilling our mandate provide benefits outside the strict confines of the CTBTO, we increase the overall return on our collective investment in the CTBTO’s verification regime.  The recent tragic events in Japan showed that some of our most fundamental activities, such as operating and maintaining the IMS and IDC, have value to the world that extend far beyond implementing an effective CTBT verification system.  It is important to note that we are not advocating the deliberate allocation of resources to enhance tsunami warning capabilities, provide aviation warnings about volcanic ash clouds, or monitor radioactivity in the environment.  But when our existing investment of resources provides benefits to those other important areas of endeavor, they take on even greater value.

As we look to prioritize the tasks that remain to fulfill the PrepCom’s mandate, we look to the PTS to help clearly define what resources are needed to do what we have already asked of them, and to identify what further areas of work would entail.  It is important to understand the monetary costs and political consequences associated with decisions to delay activities, and potential downstream hurdles we may confront as a consequence of such delays.

Decisions have consequences, but so too does the failure to make decisions.  We, as the policy-making organs, have a responsibility to provide clear and realistic guidance to the PTS.  General exhortations and platitudes such as “seeking efficiencies,” “reallocating resources,” or even “adhering to a program driven budget” are not sufficient.  In our Working Group B statement, I noted that governing means making choices.  Those choices are especially important in an organization still in a state of provisional operations.  We should be mindful of those constraints so as, for example, not to overwhelm IDC analysts by placing unsustainable workloads on them.

The PTS in turn needs to be responsive to our guidance.  When we have given it the authority to carry out a task and given them the resources to do so, it should move forward without feeling that it needs to ask the PMOs for permission at each step along the way.  Both the PTS and the PMOs have a great deal on their respective plates, and we need to rely on the PTS to responsibly carry out the tasks it has been assigned.

The Advisory Group is important in this process, too.  Having good advice from independent experts in financial matters is a very important resource for us.  However, we would do well to remember that what the AG provides is advice, not policy decisions. We should carefully consider the AG’s counsel, but the burden of grappling with the issues, debating the merits of competing equities and providing clear guidance to the PTS ultimately lies with us.  It is unreasonable of us to expect, as we sometimes seem to do, that the Advisory Group will somehow formulate cost-free solutions to the difficult choices and trade-offs we face.

Before closing, I’d like to address what has become perhaps the most exigent issue for this session of the WGB: funding the On-Site Inspection Integrated Field Exercise scheduled for 2014.  Some of the delegations have been working closely with our PTS colleagues to identify reallocations within the regular budget – including activities that might be postponed – to create space to include some IFE14 funding elements in the regular budgets for 2011-2015.  Conducting the IFE is critically important for the broader effort of refining the OSI regime, and we must work out a prudent and responsible way to pay for it.  In addition to supporting a robust suite of OSI-related activities with U.S. expertise, the United States is carefully considering the recent formal request from the Executive Secretary to States Signatories for Contributions-in-Kind of OSI equipment.  We strongly encourage other States Signatories to do so as well.

The debate about how to fund the upcoming IFE leads to the important question of how the CTBTO will pay to carry out on-site inspections, which are expensive undertakings, after entry into force.   We do not have a solution to propose at present – I’m afraid our crystal ball isn’t that good – but would suggest that it is an important question that we should keep in mind as we continue our work to develop the OSI regime.  We should be mindful of the consequences of the procedures and protocols we develop, and what additional costs those additional requirements will entail.  While on-site inspections will never be cheap, we must take care that we do not inadvertently make them much more expensive than is truly necessary.

Before surrendering the floor I’d like to acknowledge the many contributions of our outgoing IMS Division Director, Dr. Federico Guendel, for whom this will be the last WGB and joint WGA-WGB meeting.  Under his stewardship, the IMS Division has made great strides in building out the International Monitoring System, for which he, the IMS Division and the CTBTO are to be commended.  I know I speak for the other delegations here in saying that Federico’s  sense of perspective, warmth and collegiality will very much be missed, and we wish him and his family well in whatever comes next for them.

Thank you, Chairmen.