Statement at the 53rd session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission


CTBTO Preparatory Commission

53rd Session, 25 to 27 November 2019

Statement by Ambassador Gerhard Küntzle,

Permanent Representative of Germany to the CTBTO

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Germany fully aligns itself with the statement by the European Union and wishes to add the following remarks in its national capacity:

As Co-Presidents together with Algeria of the XIV Conference, held on 25 September in New York, we are encouraged by the high level of ministerial participation and pleased with the adoption by consensus of a clearly worded joint Ministerial Declaration. We are aware of the difficulties in reaching agreement and would like to thank all delegations for their constructive participation in the negotiations. This is a strong asset and a convincing reason why the CTBT and the CTBTO should play a prominent role in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation narrative, in particular at the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will continue his personal engagement for entry into force.

While the CTBT has already established a strong de facto norm against nuclear testing, only its entry into force will put a legal and verifiable end to all nuclear testing. We renew our appeal to the eight remaining Annex 2 States to sign and/or ratify the Treaty. We invite each to see their position as a unique chance to show leadership and overcome the deadlock. As Co-presidents we will continue bilateral outreach to each and every one of them.

The outlook for our collective efforts in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in Vienna, Geneva and New York remains bleak - standstill and deadlock rather than steps forwards are the rule. Against this background, it is all the more important to recall that in spite of different approaches to issues such as mobile noble gas systems or cash surplus, what unites us 184 CTBTO Member States is much stronger: the shared desire to end all nuclear test explosions on the planet, in a legally binding and fully verifiable way. While signature and ratification of the CTBT remain the key vehicles of political support to the Treaty, financial and technical support for the CTBTO’s work remains a basic precondition. To quote Foreign Minister Maas: „The CTBTO operates a network of monitoring stations in 89 countries – an excellent example of multilateralism in practice. This network reliably detects nuclear tests as proven in the context of the DPRK. It also provides civilian benefits, including scientific research on climate change. Let us work to preserve this major achievement.“

We are convinced that the CTBTO’s unique, effective and highly capable verification regime is the most convincing argument for the remaining countries to sign and/or ratify. Hence assuring its completion and provisional operation with full data availability remains imperative.

This includes building capacity of all national data centers to play an active role in the verification regime. To contribute to this aim, Germany has been adding to the NDC-in-a-box software and conducting National Data Centre Preparedness Exercises (NPE) since 2007. These NPEs have enjoyed increased participation from NDCs from around the world and covered all four IMS technologies. We invite all countries to participate in the current 2019 NPE and are grateful to Italy for its important contribution to organizing this year’s exercise.

The CTBT verification regime relies on the cooperation of all Member States. We therefore remind countries of their legal obligation to pay assessed contributions in full and on time. This would also relieve delegations of the need for weeks of informal consultations on the use of any cash surplus. In this context, Germany supports the idea of tasking the Advisory Group identifying options for a more efficient solution regarding the use of late payments.

The organization’s budget has been zero real growth since the organization’s founding years, while the number of Member States and IMS facilities to be built, maintained and recapitalized continues to grow. Any significant shortfall in funding will have a significant impact on the CTBTO, whose fixed expenses account for over 80%. In addition, we share the concern voiced by the Executive Secretary that a zero real growth budget is not sustainable in the long term.

To conclude, I warmly welcome the candidature of my Art. XIV Co-Coordinator, Ambassador Mebarki of Algeria, as PrepCom Chair for 2020 and assure her of my full support.

Thank you.

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