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Statement by the Russian delegation at the 55th session of the Working Group B of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission (Vienna, August 24, 2020)

Unofficial translation into English

   Mr. Chairman,

On June 30, 2020 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Russia's ratification of the CTBT. For two decades our country has been strictly adhering to its obligations under the Treaty and has been actively working to ensure its entry into force. We steadfastly advocate the progressive development of the CTBT verification mechanism by the entry into force of the Treaty and are making a significant contribution to this work, establishing the second largest national segment of the International Monitoring System (IMS). The statement published by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the occasion of the mentioned anniversary was published as an official document of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission.

   Mr. Chairman,

The coronavirus pandemic has become a serious test for the entire international community and has affected all areas of public life. The crisis has clearly demonstrated the interdependence of all states without exception and that there is no alternative to international cooperation in the fight against this and other global challenges.

We note the well-coordinated work of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Preparatory Commission to organize the Commission's activities remotely in the pandemic, as well as the measures taken to fulfill the key tasks of the Organization. We consider it is important in the current emergency conditions to ensure the further implementation of the program activities of the Commission. It is necessary to maintain a balanced approach to the development and financing of all three main elements of the CTBT verification mechanism  - IMS, International Data Center (IDC) and On-Site Inspection (OSI) that are equivalent, complementary and indivisible.

   Mr. Chairman,

We acknowledge the efforts of the PTS to adjust the OSI work program. In connection with the planned postponement of the second and third Build-up exercises to 2021, we consider it is necessary to use the existing pause to thoroughly prepare the mentioned activities. During this period, it is important to ensure that the appropriate level of training for “surrogate” inspectors who have completed the third and earlier training cycles is maintained. We hope that the upcoming OSI exercises will make it possible to comprehensively assess the results of work in this area during recent years, as well as to determine a strategy for further actions, including the feasibility of a new integrated field exercise.

   Mr. Chairman,

We are closely following the implementation of the IDC Commissioning Plan. We believe that this process should be transparent and carried out under the direct supervision of the States Signatories and take into account their recommendations. We consider it is useful to continue the practice of regular briefings by the Secretariat of the results of this work.

In accordance with the decision of the 52nd session of the PrepCom, it is important to develop a clear guidelines on the use of mobile stations for detecting radioactive noble gases as well as to get its approval by the Commission. We presume that the PTS should exercise restraint and avoid involvement in new projects in this area before the Commission takes such a decision.

   Mr. Chairman,

Given the remaining restrictions that prevent delegations from participating in the work of the WGB in person, we do not object to discussions on a number of issues of the agenda in the closed Expert Communication System (ECS) of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission under the guidance of coordinators on relevant topics. At the same time, we believe that this format does not allow coming up with specific decisions and recommendations, and discussions can be of a purely preliminary nature. We proceed from the assumption that it would be possible to take decisions on such issues during subsequent face-to-face meetings of the WGB.

   Mr. Chairman,

As for allegations made by the US delegation in its morning statement that Russia has not observed its nuclear testing moratorium, we noted earlier that those allegations have not been supported by any evidence. We consider them as an attempt by the United States to justify its possible withdrawal from another important international treaty and to untie the hands to resume nuclear testing.

   Dear Dr. J. Schulze,

Taking into account that this is the last WGB session under your leadership, the Russian delegation would like to thank you for your impeccable work as the Chairman of the WGB for many years. We highly appreciate your professional and balanced approach, your personal contribution to the efforts to establish the CTBT verification mechanism. We wish you successful completion of your work as WGB Chair and all the best in your future endeavor.

Thank you for your attention.