Comprehensive Treaty Test Ban Treaty Organisation
53rd Preparatory Commission Meeting
Australian National Statement
Delivered by HE Mr Richard Sadleir, Resident Representative of Australia to the CTBTO
25 November 2019
Thank you, Chair.
At the outset, let me thank you for stepping into this role and I would like to assure you that Australia stands ready to support you as we work through another substantial agenda at this 53rd Meeting of the Preparatory Commission.
May I also extend thanks to Executive Secretary Zerbo, both for his opening remarks, but also the tireless efforts that he and the staff of the Provisional Technical Secretariat exert towards our shared objectives.
Finally, let me also thank the Chairs of Working Groups A and B, and the Chair of the Advisory Group for all their hard work in the lead-up to this meeting.
From the very earliest days of the consideration of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Australia has been one of its staunchest advocates and strongest supporters.
Australia is proud to have played an important role helping to see the Treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996. To this day we remain deeply committed to promoting the entry-into-force of the Treaty, a key pillar of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
As we look ahead to the NPT RevCon in 2020, the international community has a valuable opportunity to take stock of the crucial role this treaty plays, even prior to its entry into force, in making the world safer and more secure.
This success is both a welcome and a sobering fact. We are pleased to see that the IMS is more than 90 per cent complete, and that the International Data Centre (IDC) is functioning effectively. National Data Centre capacity continues to grow, as does capability in the area of on-site inspections. However, the fact that this treaty is still yet to enter into force, remains a source of frustration.
For our part, as co-chairs of the Friends of the CTBT and as a committed advocate for the CTBT, we will continue to push towards entry into force as quickly as possible.
We call on all states yet to do so – particularly Annex 2 states – to ratify the Treaty without delay. In particular, we call on the DPRK to sign and ratify the Treaty as part of its commitment to denuclearise.
I spoke of the proven technical effectiveness of the International Monitoring System (IMS) and the IDC. It is unfortunate that North Korea’s nuclear tests served both to prove the effectiveness of these systems, and at the same time underlined the crucial and urgent need to end nuclear tests.
The Australian Government joins with many other nations in seeking a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. Central to this objective remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.
We commend the commitment demonstrated by the US and the ROK to continue talks with North Korea, despite persistently destabilising behaviour.
We call on North Korea to cease provocative actions that increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to comply with the clear views of the international community on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Australia remains committed to maintaining and enforcing sanctions against North Korea. We call on all countries to assist in maintaining sanctions, including by fully implementing UNSC resolutions against North Korea.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Executive Secretary Zerbo’s recent visit, at the request of the Government of Tuvalu, to attend the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. We remain hopeful that this will continue to build momentum towards further signatures and ratifications in our immediate region.
We would also like to congratulate the co-chairs of the recent Article XIV conference, Algeria and Germany, for presiding over another successful and well-attended conference, underpinned by a high quality final declaration.
It is important that relevant verification-related capabilities of this organisation continue to be maintained and developed.
Effective ongoing vigilance depends on the completion of the IMS and on ensuring that all stations are operating effectively with data available to all member states. Australia is proud that all 21 of our IMS stations are now certified and operational.
I would also like to highlight the value of further analysis and use of IMS data for civil and scientific benefit.
The provision of real time tsunami warnings to countries in our region is just one example of how this verification regime is making a tangible contribution to millions of lives.
With regard to the use of the cash surplus, Australia thanks the PTS for its proposal and confirms our support for the draft decision before us. Australia has been consistent in its position on this matter.
Going forward, we suggest that the Advisory Group be tasked to consider and report on options for a more sustainable and predictable approach to funding major IMS repairs. We propose that this be informed by a paper prepared by the PTS.
Australia supports the adoption of the 2020-21 program and budget and encourages all States Signatories to pay their assessed contributions on time and in full.
And finally, Australia welcomes the nomination of the Ambassador of Algeria as the next Chair of the Commission in 2020.