Mr Chairman,

1. The Group of 77 and China is pleased to see you resume the chairmanship of Working Group B at the current session. The Group trusts that the next two weeks will provide States Signatories with a good opportunity to engage in productive discussions, in the most efficient manner. I assure you of the full cooperation of the Group to this end.

2. The Group would like to thank the Executive Secretary for the written reports on progress in the implementation of the verification related activities for the period January to June 2013 and July to December 2013, as well as for his opening remarks.

3. The Group also thanks the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) for the informal technical briefings provided to States Signatories on 12 February, prior to the current session of Working Group B. We welcome the fact that the PTS has responded positively to the request of States Signatories to focus on topics on which recommendations will be made at Working Group B sessions or where substantive guidance from Working Group B to the PTS is expected. We encourage the PTS to continue to strive in the efficient use of the time allotted to these informative sessions, targeting the specific issues of relevance to the sessions for which they are intended and focusing on intersessional developments of importance to the discussions which will take place during the actual sessions.

Mr Chairman,

4. The Group reiterates its principled position on the importance of promoting a balanced approach among the three Major Programmes of the verification regime, namely, the International Monitoring System (IMS), the International Data Centre and On-Site Inspection (OSI). To this end, it calls once more on the PTS to reassess its priorities and to assign resources accordingly, seeking the necessary efficiencies in the process, so that the CTBT verification regime is balanced and coherent, as well as robust while efficient.

5. On specific verification related aspects falling under the purview of the activities conducted by the PTS, the Group would like to make the following remarks:
5.1. We welcome the fact that, as reported by the PTS, the data availability of certified IMS stations has held steady during the past year, and that data transmission from the stations in China has already begun. The Group views this as a very positive development in the verification regime of the CTBTO.
5.2. We also welcome the various activities conducted by the PTS in the area of capacity building and training. The Group appreciates the efforts of the PTS to enhance the capabilities of States Signatories through its National Data Centre development workshops, advanced regional training courses and expert visits in the field for on the job training. We encourage the PTS to keep up its work in this area, which the Group considers of the utmost importance in the development of the national capacities of States Signatories that are required in the build-up and long term sustainment of the verification regime of the CTBT.
5.3. Regarding the establishment of the International Monitoring System, the Group takes note of the summary reflecting the state of affairs as of 31 December 2013, as contained in paragraph 31 of the report of the Executive Secretary on the verification related activities undertaken by the PTS in the second half of 2013. Bearing in mind the advanced stage of the build-up of the International Monitoring System, the Group reiterates its position that a balanced approach is needed in the allocation of funds, safeguarding investments already made, work in progress and the advancement of the IMS.
5.4. Regarding the management of life cycle costs, including post-certification activity contracts for certified IMS stations, the Group looks forward to the presentation that the PTS will make during this session of Working Group B. The Group calls on all States Signatories to cooperate with the PTS in a joint effort to lower life cycle costs, including those relating to post-certification activities.
5.5. The Group is pleased to note that 2013 saw significant progress in the preparations for the Integrated Field Exercise (IFE) which will take place in Jordan in November this year. We welcome the fact that many States Signatories have made important contributions in kind for the IFE, especially of equipment. We encourage the PTS to keep States Signatories informed of relevant developments on the eve of this important exercise, as the date of its concretion approaches. As we all know, the IFE will not end once it has concluded on the terrain. For us to reap the most benefits in terms of the lessons that will contribute to the development of specific aspects of the verification techniques and of the different components of the verification regime that will be put to the test in IFE14, the post-exercise evaluation phase will be crucial.
5.6. Great attention should be given to the thoroughness and precision guiding the work of the PTS in its measurement of observables, as well as the rigour with which the wealth of the data gathered is systematized and further analysed. We expect that IFE14 will also build on the lessons learned from IFE08, not only in terms of the substantive elements of the verification regime being put to the test, but also in terms of the many practical and logistical aspects involved, as well as of the methodology of the exercise itself and the post-exercise evaluation techniques. The Group hopes that the lessons learned from IFE14 will be a much needed and significant contribution to the development of the OSI component of the verification regime. Of particular importance is having a balanced geographical distribution among the participants in IFE14. The Group strongly encourages the PTS to take this criterion into consideration when selecting participants.

6. To conclude, Mr Chairman, let me say that the Group of 77 and China looks forward to working with you and the Task Leaders in a constructive and engaged manner, so that progress can be made on the different issues on the agenda of this Working Group.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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