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STATEMENT by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail ULYANOV at the 54th session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission. 25 June 2020.

Madame Chairperson,

At the outset let me express my thanks for your efforts on preparation for the 54th session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and more generally for your work as a Chair of the Commission.  You can count on the assistance and support of the Russian delegation during the session.

On June, 30 2020, we will mark 20th anniversary of the CTBT ratification by the Russian Federation. The decision to ratify the Treaty was dictated by serious intention of our country to move towards strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and international security as a whole. Over two decades the Russian Federation has strictly adhered to its obligations under the Treaty and actively worked to facilitate the early entry into force of the CTBT. We take part in the activities of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and finalize the establishment at our territory of the second largest national segment of the International Monitoring System (IMS). For us the CTBT in force is a matter of ensuring national security and international stability.

Unfortunately, lately the situation around the CTBT has caused serious concern. Recent leaks to the media regarding possible resumption of nuclear tests by the United States confirm the fears that Washington has determined not only to refuse the ratification of the CTBT but also to potentially withdraw from the Treaty. We have an absolutely abnormal situation when, for instance, the DPRK refrains from conducting nuclear tests but the United States considers to move in the opposite direction. We are deeply concerned that in order to cover up its destructive steps in relation to the CTBT the United States has questioned commitments of other States to the Treaty. This tactic is already known. Recently similar situation has been with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty – initially there were unproven accusations against Russian and then - withdrawal from the Treaty.  This year the situation has been repeated in the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies. There is an impression that similar developments are underway in relation to the CTBT. The resumption of nuclear tests by Washington could lead to the collapse of the CTBT and CTBTO Preparatory Commission that currently has 184 participants. Those developments require an adequate response and collective actions from all of us to prevent the destruction of another important international treaty.

Madame Chairperson,

The extremely unstable situation around the CTBT is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic that according to the World Health Organization continues to spread around the world. We have yet to assess its consequences.

Our main objective in this extraordinary situation is to ensure reliable and effective functioning of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission as well as fulfillment of its key functions. Due to the well-coordinated work of the PTS headed by the Executive Secretary L.Zerbo the Preparatory Commission is able to carry out this task. The IMS and the International Data Center continue to function uninterruptedly. CTBTO activities postponed by the pandemic are gradually resumed in online format. 

The launch of the campaign on the appointment of the Executive Secretary could distract attention from this key task and threaten the internal work of the Organization. We are not sure that today is the right time to start the election process. Besides, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to organize the elections with proper observance of all required procedures in current remote circumstances. The consultations on such an important issue should be held with physical presence and interaction with other delegations. Moreover, the elections itself, if they are required, cannot be held virtually unless we take the way to review the existing procedures.

We believe that in the current situation we should seriously consider alternative options to address this issue that could protect the Organization from additional unnecessary difficulties and provide conditions for further stable work of the Commission.

In any case, we are of the view that this issue requires further discussion that could continue after this session in the framework of informal consultations under the leadership of the Chair of the Commission.

Thank you for your attention.