23. February 2017
SOUTH AFRICA STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORTY-EIGHTH (48TH) SESSION OF WORKING GROUP B, COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN-TREATY ORGANIZATION DELIVERED BY DR JT PITSWANE, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE, 23 FEBRUARY 2017, VIENNA
The South African delegation is pleased to see you, Dr Joachim Schulze, and the Vice-Chairs leading the deliberations in the 48th session of Working Group B (WGB). Let me assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation in your efforts to steer this meeting to a fruitful and successful conclusion.
South Africa aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the African Group and the G77 and China respectively.
We thank the Executive Secretary, Mr. ZERBO, for his opening remarks and welcome his Report on the Verification-Related Activities for the period July to December 2016. My delegation also commends the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) for preparing the documentation for this session.
The detection of the DPRK event on 09 September 2016 was certainly a good benchmark against which the PTS can rate the performance of the International Monitoring System (IMS) and International Data Centre (IDC). We are pleased to note that the reaction time of the PTS was prompt and proved the capability of the Secretariat to monitor such events. While the report indicates that during a period of high alert radionuclide monitoring was marked by one episode of abnormal levels of xenon 133 at one radionuclide station, it would seem unlikely that this could be linked to the DPRK announcement of a nuclear test. In this regard, my delegation encourages the Secretariat to continue its analysis of data related to the event.
We note that in the reporting period, the data availability of certified IMS stations remained high. We also note with appreciation that the levels of unauthenticated data availability for hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide particulate stations as well as the noble gas system increased during the second half of 2016. However, we note that there was a decrease in unauthenticated data availability for primary and auxiliary seismic stations.
Similarly, we commend the Secretariat on their prompt assistance to States Signatories experiencing station challenges. For our part, we will endeavour to cooperate closely with the Secretariat in order to keep the downtime of the South African stations to a minimum.
South Africa notes that out of 43 projects identified in the OSI Action Plan for 2016-2019, 32 have been launched in 2016 and three were completed. We also welcome the launching of the third OSI training cycle for surrogate inspectors, which was held in Slovakia in October 2016. We also note that 74 trainees from 46 States Signatories attended and completed the course. In addition, we are pleased to note that the course also brought together experts from 13 African countries with the goal to familiarize themselves with OSI technologies and operations.
We note that during the reporting period the Secretariat continued to integrate capacity building and training activities. In particular, South Africa appreciates the outcome of the RSTT workshop in April 2016 and the follow-up RSTT workshop and training hosted by South Africa in the margins of the International Geological Congress (IGC) in August 2016. The objectives of the RSTT were to strengthen knowledge on the Treaty and the work of the Commission, to further build up national and regional capacities to implement the Treaty and participate in the verification regime, to promote the civil and scientific applications of verification technologies, to share data, and to develop RSTT in Africa.
With regard the Equipment Storage and Management Facility (ESMF), my delegation notes that the premises of the Austrian Institute of Technology in Seibersdorf, Austria will serve as Temporary Storage Area (TSA) and that the lease can be extended until 31 January 2019.
Related to the above, South Africa’s welcomes the decision of the Commission at its 47th Session to fund the construction of a new ESMF from its 2014 cash surplus balance to the amount of US $7 852 357. In addition, South Africa also recalls the decision of the 47th Session of the Commission, which requested the PTS to provide information on contributions received and on the final amount of the 2014 cash surplus that will be available to be used for the ESMF by 31 December 2016. In this regard, it would be appreciated if the Secretariat could provide more details on the contributions received, including an explanation of paragraph 4 of the Executive Secretary’s report contained in document CTBT/PTS/INF.1392, which foresees that the remainder of the funding for the ESMF will be provided through the Regular Budget. My delegation does not recall a Commission decision to this effect.
The South African delegation looks forward to the forthcoming Science and Technology Conference (SnT2017), to be held in Austria from 26 to 30 June 2017. We encourage the Secretariat to facilitate the participation of experts and scientists from States Signatories, in particular developing countries. We believe that the Conference will provide an excellent platform for the scientific community to exchange knowledge and ideas with the Commission and to broaden their engagement in test-ban monitoring.
South Africa notes that the report of the Executive Secretary refers to the sixth Workshop on Signatures of Medical and Industrial Isotopes Production (WOSMIP VI), held in Argentina in November and December 2016. This Workshop focused on better understanding the effects of the global radionuclide background of emissions of CTBT-relevant radionuclides from nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power plants, research reactors, production, handling and use of medical isotopes and industrial isotopes, which in our view is beyond the purview of the Commission.
My delegation reiterates that WOSMIP is a private initiative by the producers of medical radioisotopes to explore means to mitigate the effects of emissions from Molybdenum-99 production facilities. While South Africa participated in most of these Workshops, it was with the clear understanding that this is a private initiative and any decision and discussions at the Workshops will not be discussed in the intergovernmental processes, such as the subsidiary bodies of the Commission. South Africa believes that the Secretariat should be guided by the decision of the 45th Session of WGB on dealing with this matter, which reads under paragraph 6. (b):
“Any activities of the study of characterization of global radionuclide background should be focused on the calibration and performance of the verification system as described in the Treaty, in accordance with the current version of the IMS and IDC Operational Manuals, without additional obligations on States Signatories and in full conformity with the mandate of the Commission”.