EU Statement on the occasion of the 54th Session of
CTBTO Working Group B
17-28 February 2020
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: Turkey§, The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro*, Iceland+, Serbia*, Albania*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Norway+, Ukraine, The Republic of Moldova, Georgia and San Marino.
2. We thank you, Mr Chairman, and also the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) for the thorough preparation of this meeting.
3. The efforts to promote and facilitate signature and ratification of the CTBT remain a priority. We welcome every opportunity to support its entry into force and to present the benefits of the Organisation. The third CTBT Symposium on Science and Diplomacy to take place from 30 March in Vienna will further strengthen the link between the scientific and policy making communities. This event, amongst others, provides a useful platform to engage with the remaining Annex 2 States: Egypt, China, Iran, Israel, and the US that still have to ratify the Treaty and the DPRK, India and Pakistan that still have to sign and ratify it in order to bring it into force. The EU strongly encourages the remaining Annex 2 States to participate in the Symposium. EU Member States have done their part by ratifying the Treaty many years ago and will continue to call upon the outstanding countries to do the same without any preconditions or further delay. The EU continues to call on all States to maintain moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion, and to refrain from any action that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.
4. In addition to highlighting the CTBT’s obvious contribution to international peace and security, the CTBT's Symposium will also be an opportunity to showcase the CTBTO's sophisticated and near complete multilateral verification system, which is an asset to the international community. To make best use of our collective investment, the EU also advocates fully exploiting potential benefits of civil and scientific applications of IMS data and financially supports capacity building for developing countries in this regard. These services using verification technologies were presented at the CTBT's Science and Technology Conference last June. We thank the PTS for the preliminary report on the scientific and technical achievements of the Conference.
5. As part of the CTBTO's Integrated Capacity Building, technical workshops assist States in using IMS data and IDC products to support civil and scientific applications and research associated with Treaty-related verification technologies, including tsunami and volcanic ash cloud warning. We encourage the PTS to continue co-operating with other international organisations to support its activities, such as atmospheric transport modelling with the World Meteorological Organisation that can improve detection capabilities of the verification regime, in order to reach the requirements defined in the Treaty.
6. These activities also strengthen the CTBTO's verification regime which is important for the EU. We continue to provide additional voluntary contributions to support the verification regime as well as capacity building and outreach. The EU's eighth consecutive voluntary contribution will be announced later this year. One project, amongst others, will help to further enhance the NDC-in-a-box software package, which is a unique and valuable tool for capacity building that enables all NDCs to independently evaluate IDC products. Our continued political and financial commitment to the Organization is also in-line with UNSC Resolution 2310.
7. The EU congratulates the PTS and the efforts of all CTBTO Member States that contributed to reaching the milestone of 300 certified facilities. This was achieved with the recent certifications of an infrasound station in Argentina and a radionuclide laboratory in South Africa. We look forward to and encourage further station installations and constructions, which are expected soon, thanks to the co-operation between States and the PTS.
8. Accurate and timely International Data Centre (IDC) reports and station reliability are essential. It remains vital that States Signatories provide data to the CTBTO from all stations that they host. Data provision would increase if certified stations transitioned from testing and evaluation to post-certification activities. Furthermore, we urge all States to ensure the long term sustainability of stations, to develop operation and maintenance plans in accordance with the standard template and to keep an active dialogue with the PTS to guarantee that stations operate according to Treaty standards. With IMS construction ongoing for over 20 years, there is no excuse for further delay in certifying and operating all stations. We encourage all States Signatories to co-operate with the PTS to that effect.
9. Transportable monitoring systems are also essential for the functioning of the IDC in helping to further understand the global background for all four IMS technologies. We agree with the report of the 52nd session of Working Group B that such noble gas related activity should study the characterization of global radionuclide background and focus on the calibration and performance of the verification system as described in the Treaty. These background studies using transportable monitoring systems not part of the IMS have been going on for years to improve the performance of the verification regime and ensure the correct detection of events. Therefore this activity is part of, and helps carrying out the mandate of the PTS.
10. The EU considers additional IMS certifications a priority and encourages the Executive Secretary to continue reaching out to State Signatories to this end. It is also essential that States Signatories keep cooperating with the PTS to maintain and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the verification system established by the Preparatory Commission. To help this process States could apply fast track tax free customs clearance to the import of relevant equipment for IMS stations.
11. We are concerned by the DPRK's latest announcements suggesting that it would no longer adhere to its declared suspension of testing nuclear weapons. The EUcalls on the DPRK to return to meaningful negotiations and in the meantime to stick to a moratorium on nuclear tests and any other nuclear explosions and ballistic missile launches, refrain from further provocations, and take concrete and credible steps towards building trust and confidence and abandoning all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the UN Security Council. We also call upon the DPRK to sign and ratify the CTBT without further delay.
12. Following the DPRK's nuclear tests, the CTBTO demonstrated its invaluable role in quickly providing reliable and independent data, something that no single country could do, enabling the international community to respond appropriately and swiftly. The EU reiterates its confidence in the CTBT's verification regime and looks forward to the completion of the IMS.
13. Acknowledging the importance for the IMS to have the full capacity to verify and monitor the globe, we note improvements in data availability. However problems at some IMS stations still persist. Given the direct impact on the Organization’s ability to detect a potential nuclear test, at the last PrepCom we requested the PTS to work with the States concerned and inform States Signatories before this Working Group B session on plans and timelines to resolve data availability and quality issues. We look forward to further progress in this respect.
14. We are pleased that the PTS continues to perform station calibrations that play an essential role in the proper interpretation of signals recorded by IMS facilities. The work to optimize the performance of monitoring technologies in order to keep abreast of technological advances is increasingly important. In this regard we recognize the efforts of the PTS in achieving major upgrades and revalidations to preserve the investment in the network.
15. The EU welcomes that the Technology, Support and Training Centre is operational and supports major CTBTO activities. In this regard we thank the PTS for providing detailed reports about the status of establishing a permanent replacement for the equipment, storage and maintenance facility. We also welcome the continued implementation of the OSI exercise plan for 2016-2020 and note the progress in the third training cycle for surrogate inspectors and the organisation of the Build-up Exercises to be held in Slovakia. The EU also encourages the PTS to prepare the future OSI strategy with a view to maintaining its infrastructure and supporting the knowledge management of surrogate inspectors.
16. On the payment of assessed contributions, we are extremely concerned by the fact that some 77 States Signatories have persistently failed to honour their financial obligations to the Organization, resulting in a suspension of their voting rights. These unpaid contributions are a serious liability for the completion, maintenance and development of the IMS, IDC and OSI capabilities as well as for the further development of related capacity building. We appreciate that some States have settled outstanding contributions and negotiated a payment plan and urge other States to follow this positive example.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
§ Candidate Country
* Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, as well as potential Candidate Country Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland and Norway are members of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.