Remarks by head of the Russian delegation to the 50th session of the Working Group on Verification Issues of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission (March 12 - 23, 2018), Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to International Organisations in Vienn

Monday, 19 March 2018 13:37

Mr Chairman,

Mr Executive Secretary,

I would like to confirm our delegation’s readiness for productive and intensive work at this session of the Working Group on Verification Issues.

We highly value the well-coordinated and successful work of the PTS of CTBTO Preparatory Commission to establish and maintain the operational readiness of the International Monitoring System and the International Data Centre. The CTBTO has shown good operational capabilities with regard to the developments in North Korea, which means a high degree of readiness of the verification regime stipulated by the Treaty.

However, the CTBT verification regime does not exist in isolation, but is an integral part of the Treaty. This mechanism will be fully functional only after the Treaty comes into force. Over the years, we have been working on it actively, accelerating the launch of the International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities and individual elements of the International Data Centre (IDC), and building up the inspection component to the level of operational readiness. Our attitude was based on a premise that positive changes will soon begin around the Treaty, and the verification mechanism should be fully prepared. We primarily hoped that the CTBT would be rapidly ratified by Washington, followed by other key signatories.

The recent refusal by the United States to ratify the CTBT dealt a huge blow to the work of the Preparatory Commission. Over more than 20 years, Russia and, I think, other states that have ratified the CTBT, have come to regard it as an integral part of international security and stability. Washington’s revision of its CTBT policy undermines not only the future of the Treaty, but also the many years of efforts to establish its verification mechanism. We are not sure that in these conditions, the “business as usual” formula is the best choice. It will be necessary to carefully analyse the qualitatively new situation and, if necessary, make adjustments to the line of further action.

The US intention to keep the nuclear test moratorium for the time being is not a solution. The moratorium is known to be a voluntary measure and cannot in any way replace legal obligations under the Treaty.

The US plans to concentrate on supporting the IMS and IDC instead of on-site inspections are a matter of serious concern. In fact, Washington, as we understand it, intends to focus only on those measures that meet its utilitarian national interests. This is not possible in the framework of a multilateral agreement. To facilitate the achievement of the CTBT objectives, we need to continue the gradual and balanced development of all three verification regime elements – the IMS, IDC and on-site inspections (OSI). We would like to emphasise that these three elements are mutually complementary, equivalent and inseparable. The selective approach the US intends to use is unacceptable here.

The Visual Observations and Radionuclide Monitoring training course organised as part of the third training cycle for inspectors (Nevada, October 2017) is also evidence of America’s non-constructive approach to the establishment of the OSI regime and disrespect for the Commission member states. Because of problems with obtaining US visas, Russian participants, as well as a number of specialists from other countries, could not take part in it. We consider this situation unacceptable. If a country offers itself as a host, it must ensure flawless organisation of the event. The inability or unwillingness to do this harms not only the reputation of the host country, but also the interests of the project. Therefore, if the host country is not sure that it will be able to fulfil its responsibilities in full, it must say so in advance, so that the event could be organised in a different location.

Mr Chairman,

We express our gratitude to Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission Lassina Zerbo for his informative report on the verification activities in the second half of 2017. On the whole, we positively assess the activities of the Secretariat in the reporting period.

We are satisfied with the certification of 6 IMS stations (including the Russian radionuclide station RN57 Bilibino) and two radionuclide laboratories over the time since the 49th WGB session.

We are pleased to note that the establishment of the OSI regime is being successfully implemented on the basis of the approved OSI Action Plan, with the projects it involves implemented consistently and on schedule.

We thank the Secretariat for developing a concept for the preparation and holding of the future OSI build-up exercises. We generally see this concept as an acceptable basis for further in-depth work in preparation for the exercises. We have a number of comments about the text, which we will list at the respective meeting. With the right approach and clearly defined tasks, the implementation of a series of three exercises will be an important step towards completing the OSI regime development. We view the preparation for these exercises as an essential component of the Commission’s work in the next few years.

Mr Chairman,

During the current session, there was a discussion on changing the WGB report structure. We believe that the idea of dividing the final report into a consensus and non-consensus part is harmful and even dangerous. The proposed initiative is, in fact, a deviation from the rule of consensus, which has been at the heart of the work of Vienna international organisations for many years. We cannot support such a decision. Today, unity and cohesion is needed more than ever to jointly achieve our main goal – the entry into force of the CTBT.

Thank you.

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