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Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna Mr. Alexey KARPOV at the 56th session of the Working Group B (WGB) of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission (Vienna, 9 March 2021)

Unofficial translation from Russian

      Mr. Chairman,

We are grateful to you, Mr. Berezin, for your professional approach and taking into account the views of all delegations during the preparation for the current WGB session. Due to the continuing restrictions related to the COVID pandemic the Group's work should be focused solely on consideration of the most critical and urgent issues which are most important for further functioning of the  Organization. We believe that translation into all UN official languages is an indispensable requirement for the work of the session. In a situation when the prospects for the entry into force of the CTBT are unclear, we see no need in artificial acceleration of the work to establish the verification mechanism of the Treaty, especially when there are objective reasons for this.

      Mr. Chairman,

We would like to welcome the ratification of the CTBT by Cuba and the Comoros. Thus, the number of countries that signed the Treaty became 185 and ratified it - 170. We consider this progress to be a good start for the year that marks the 25th anniversary of CTBT’s opening for signature. We note personal input of the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission L.Zerbo to efforts on universalization of the Treaty.

      Mr. Chairman,

We commend the work of the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission on adapting the Commission's activities to remote form of work. Due to its well-coordinated efforts the Secretariat ensured the effective implementation of the key tasks of the Organization in emergency conditions.

Despite the pandemic, construction and certification of the International Monitoring System (IMS) stations has continued, including in the most remote and difficult accessible areas with harsh weather conditions. In October 2020, remote certification of the Russian radionuclide station (RN-55) located above the Arctic Circle in Norilsk took place. This is the first-ever remote certification of IMS facilities in the Commission as well as an example of successful use of innovative approaches for ensuring business continuation of the Organization. With the certification of the Norilsk station, establishment of the Russian IMS radionuclide network was completed. To finalize the Russian IMS segment, only 3 stations remain to be operational.

In the continuing emergency conditions we consider it is important to ensure further implementation of the program activities of the Commission as well as maintaining a balanced approach to the establishment and financing of all three main elements of the CTBT verification mechanism - the IMS, the International Data Center (IDC) and the On-Site Inspection (OSI).

      Mr. Chairman,

Due to the decision not to conduct the second and third segments of the OSI Build-Up exercises because of the pandemic, we believe that a fresh look to the entire work of the Commission in field of OSI is required. We consider that it is important to preserve the best practices and the capacity created during the preparation for the above-mentioned Build-Up exercises, including maintaining proper level of training for the «surrogate» inspectors who have completed the third and earlier training cycles. We all need to think together how to assess the third phase of the development of the OSI regime, and also how to use the forced pause to its advantage, possibly by conducting limited-scale table-top exercises on particular inspection technologies. We expect the PTS to make concrete proposals on further work in the current conditions.

We note the issuance of the final report on implementation of the OSI Action Plan for 2016-2019. We are satisfied with the results of the work done on the implementation of this Plan. We are also grateful to the Secretariat for preparing preliminary OSI consolidated equipment list as well as lists on particular inspection technologies. A thorough study and consideration of the mentioned documents by the respective experts are necessary.

      Mr. Chairman,

The process of implementation of the IDC Commissioning Plan should be transparent and conducted under direct guidance of the States Signatories and taking into account their recommendations. We believe it is necessary to continue useful practice of regular reporting by the Secretariat on progress in this area.

We proceed from the understanding that until the Commission approves clear guidelines on the use of mobile stations for noble gases measurements, as envisaged by the decision of the 52nd session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, the Secretariat has to exercise restraint and not initiate any new projects in this area.

In addition to this, the Russian delegation will not support any changes to the IMS configuration as well as connection of additional facilities, which are not part of the IMS, to this system, in contradiction to the provisions of the CTBT. It goes beyond procedures provided in the Treaty and can only be applied after the entry into force of the CTBT.

Any implementation of new technologies and software systems will require discussions and respective decisions by the Commission.

      Mr. Chairman,

We believe that in the absence of possibility of holding meetings in physical format, technical discussions in the closed Expert Communication System of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission under the guidance of task leaders on relevant topics will be purely preliminary and will not become a basis for reaching specific decisions and recommendations of the Commission. We could finally decide on such issues during subsequent face-to-face meetings of the WGB.

Thank you for attention.