Australian National Statement
to the 51st Session of the CTBT Preparatory Commission
7 November 2018
Statement by Ms Alison Drury, Alternate Resident Representative to the CTBTO
Thank you, Chair.
Let me start by thanking you for contribution as Chair of the Preparatory Commission, as we move into another substantial agenda for what will be your last PrepCom.
You have chaired us in a fair and balanced manner, achieving substantial progress on some challenging issues. We look forward to the remainder of your tenure and congratulate you on your success in this role.
I also would like to thank Executive Secretary Zerbo for his opening remarks, the Provision Technical Secretariat for its support, and the Chairs of Working Groups A and B and of the Advisory Group for their hard work in the lead-up to this meeting.
The CTBT and its verification regime remain critical elements of global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.
It is an unfortunate fact that in recent years the technical effectiveness of the IMS and the IDC has been repeatedly proven. North Korea’s nuclear tests have been salient reminders of the CTBT’s importance, and of the need for vigilance and for continuing efforts to build and strengthen the verification regime.
The Australian Government remains committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.
We welcome ongoing dialogue between North Korea and each of the ROK and the US. We note North Korea’s commitment to halt nuclear testing and to allow international inspections of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Tongchang-ri missile site. We see these commitments as positive, but we remain committed to maintaining pressure on North Korea until it takes concrete steps towards complying with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
We would like to take this opportunity, here in Vienna, to again welcome Thailand’s ratification and Tuvalu’s signing of the CTBT. This is tangible recent progress we can all celebrate.
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.
The early entry into force of the CTBT is of the utmost importance.
As co-Chair (with Japan) of the Friends of the CTBT, we thank those who attended the recent 9th Friends of the CTBT Ministerial meeting, convened in New York on 27 September to help maintain momentum on this important agenda.
We welcome the association of many states with the Joint Ministerial Statement adopted at that meeting, and invite further such associations ahead of the statement’s formal recognition as a UN document.
It is important that relevant test-related verification functions continue to be maintained and developed.
Effective ongoing vigilance depends on the completion of the IMS and on ensuring that all stations are operational with data available to all member states.
In this context, I am pleased to note that the last of Australia’s twenty-one IMS stations has now been certified. We look forward to hosting a visit from Executive Secretary Zerbo this month during which we will celebrate this significant achievement.
While acknowledging the important and high quality work undertaken by Working Group B, Australia is concerned with paragraphs in the latest Working Group B report that imply a decision has been made on the scope of the Commission’s mandate.
While we note that there are differing views on some activities, it is our view that any change to the current interpretation of the Commission’s mandate should be agreed separately by the PrepCom. We do not accept the implication that the PrepCom has decided on a question of mandate by its endorsement of the report of a subsidiary body.
I would also like to highlight the importance of the ongoing development of potential civil and scientific applications of the verification system. 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. We should not seek to unnecessarily limit this collective success.
The Advisory Group is an important and valued source of expert advice for the Preparatory Commission. It is important to regularly consider and review its role, function and composition to ensure the ongoing appropriateness of its work and outputs.
Those appointed to the Advisory Group should be appropriately qualified experts of excellent character. We especially value diversity within the Advisory Group – to help ensure thorough consideration of every issue and the high quality of our work.
We are grateful for the regular and comprehensive updates on the transition to the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund and appreciate efforts to reduce risk and smooth that transition. We continue to encourage a flexible approach to ensure the best possible outcome for all affected.
Australia supports the adoption of the 2019 budget update and encourages all States Signatories to pay their assessed contributions on time and in full. We welcome Brazil’s substantial payment of arrears this year and encourage others to follow suit.
If a cash surplus is achieved in the coming year, we would support its usage in a manner comparable with the approach taken in 2014, that is, to address a few specific important areas, such as: the Article XIV conference, repair of IMS non-operational stations, further capacity-building and IDC software replacement.
Finally, Australia fully endorses the nomination of Ambassador Shin of the Republic of Korea as Chair of the Commission in 2019.
Thank you, Chair.