Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
54th Preparatory Commission Meeting
Australian National Statement
Delivered by HE Mr Richard Sadleir, Resident Representative of Australia to the CTBTO
25 June 2020
Thank you, Chair.
Firstly, my thanks to you, Executive Secretary Zerbo and to the staff of the Preparatory Commission for your hard work and professionalism in what has been a very challenging period.
Can I, in particular, commend the PTS for keeping States Signatories well informed of developments regarding the State of Health of the International Monitoring System (IMS), data availability and International Data Centre (IDC) products through the COVID-19 crisis.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into keeping these systems running effectively throughout this period, and it is a credit to all involved.
Australia has been one of the strongest supporters and advocates for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) since its earliest conception.
In late August 1996, Australia announced to the world its intention to bring forward a resolution to the UN General Assembly that would trigger the CTBT’s opening for signature.
Less than a month later, 10 September, the General Assembly hall witnessed history as Member States gave their emphatic support to the resolution.
The treaty has now been signed by 184 states, and is one of the most supported agreements globally.
Australia is proud of its unique and important role in seeing the Treaty open for signature – a role which underlines our deep commitment to the treaty and its objectives.
Entry-into-force of this Treaty, a key pillar of the international nonproliferation and disarmament regime, remains as important now as it has ever been.
And we have come a long way since 1996.
We are pleased that the IMS is more than 90 per cent complete; that the IDC is functioning efficiently; and that National Data Centre capacity continues to grow, as does capability in the area of on-site inspections.
But for our part we remain committed to seeing this Treaty move beyond a powerful norm. As co-chairs of the Friends of the CTBT and as a committed advocate for the CTBT, we continue to push toward its entry-into-force.
We call on all states yet to do so – particularly Annex 2 states – to ratify the Treaty without delay.
It remains an unfortunate fact that the DPRK’s nuclear tests demonstrated the importance and effectiveness of the treaty’s monitoring system, and, at the same time, the crucial and urgent need to end nuclear tests.
The DPRK’s announcement in December 2019 that it no longer feels bound by its moratorium on nuclear tests and ICBM launches is deeply concerning, as are its repeated shorter-range ballistic missile launches since May 2019, and its recent destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong.
Australia calls on the DPRK to cease provocative actions that may increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and honour its commitment made two years ago to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Peninsula.
Signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would be a significant step in this direction, as would making a sustained commitment to talks with each of the United States and the Republic of Korea.
It is important that relevant verification-related capabilities of this organisation continue to be preserved 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 to play host to 23 certified and operational IMS facilities, the third most of any country in the network.
Together, we will need to continue to grow the capability of IMS station operators, national data centres, and States signatories to maximise the effectiveness of the tools we have developed.
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.
On the matters before us at this meeting, Australia welcomes the abbreviated agenda you have devised, and stands ready to support you to resolve any outstanding issues.
We note the importance of beginning the process to elect an Executive Secretary for the 2021-2025 mandate. We remain of the view that the procedures agreed by consensus in 2012 are fit-for-purpose, and should form the basis of agreement at this meeting.
Australia looks forward to a fair, transparent and inclusive process to decide on the next Executive Secretary. Collectively, we should ensure our focus remains on doing what is best for the organisation and its objectives.