Mr Chairman,

1. The Group of 77 and China is pleased to see you chairing the Forty-Fifth Session of Working Group B. The Group trusts that this session will lead our discussions to a productive outcome. I assure you of the continuation of the Groupís full cooperation to this end.

2. The Group would like to thank the Executive Secretary for his written report on progress in the implementation of the verification related activities for the period January to June 2015, as well as for his opening remarks. The Group would also like to thank the PTS for preparing documents and making them available to States Signatories in advance of this session.

Mr Chairman,

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

4. On specific verification related activities conducted by the PTS, the Group would like to make the following remarks:
(a) We welcome the fact that, as reported by the PTS, the data availability of certified IMS stations remained high during the reporting period, while noting with concern that data availability for radionuclide stations decreased within the same period.
(b) Regarding the IMS, the Group takes note of the activities undertaken by the PTS during the reporting period. Bearing in mind the advanced stage of the build-up of the IMS, the Group reiterates its position that a balanced approach is needed in the allocation of funds to safeguard investments already made, for the work in progress and the advancement of the IMS. In this regard, the Group takes note of the activities reported under the section pertaining to the support of monitoring facilities.
(c) The Group notes that the IDC has fulfilled all the requirements of Phase 5a of the IDC Progressive Commissioning Plan. The Group further notes the road map for Phase 5b proposed by the PTS among the briefing material issued for the current session of WGB, and looks forward to the full discussions concerning the proposed road map. In this regard, the Group stresses full adherence to the mandate of the Preparatory Commission contained in the guidelines approved by the nineteenth session of the Commission. The Group supports the fact that full time operation capability in the context of the tests does not mean that the IDC will be operated full time at full capacity throughout Phase 5b, rather, the capability to do so will be tested periodically in exercises of specified duration.
(d) The Group thanks the external evaluation team for their report on the principal findings on the 2014 Integrated Field Exercise (IFE), as contained in document CTBT/PTS/INF.1331, and note that, according to the external evaluation team, the objectives of the exercise were fully achieved and significant progress has been made in developing OSI capabilities since the 2008 IFE and the Build-Up Exercises held in 2012 and 2013.
(e) The Group welcomes the contribution of the 2014 IFE in improving OSI capabilities and, thus, helping fulfil the requirements of the Treaty and its Protocol, in support of the capabilities of the On-Site Inspection Division so as to contribute to its readiness from the entry into force of the Treaty. The Group notes, however, that many gaps in OSI capabilities still exist and require further development and training. The Group therefore looks forward to the conceptual work initiated by the PTS related to the preparation of a new OSI action plan that is to be presented for review by States Signatories at the Forty-Sixth Session of WGB.
(f) The Group congratulates the PTS for the successful organization and outcome of the CTBT: Science and Technology 2015 conference, which took place in June this year. The Group notes with appreciation the record participation allowing for a fruitful exchange of scientific knowledge and ideas, in particular on the wider scientific application of data that are used for test-ban verification. The Group looks forward to a comprehensive written report on the organization and outcome of the Conference.
(g) The Group continues to believe that together with science and technology, capacity building plays an important role in addressing development challenges across a wide range of issues, including the internationally agreed development goals. In this regard, the Group also notes the diverse activities conducted by the PTS in the area of capacity building and training, and encourages further efforts in this area. The Group appreciates the efforts of the PTS to enhance the capabilities of States Signatories through their National Data Centres (NDC) and, in this regard, the Group notes with satisfaction the training events carried out at NDCs, the station operator courses and the technical workshops organized by the PTS. The Group encourages the PTS to continue to pursue and to enhance this kind of activity, which is of the utmost importance in the development of the national capacities of States Signatories, especially developing countries, which are required in the build-up and long term sustainment of the Treatyís verification regime.
(h) Regarding the management of life cycle costs, including post-certification activity (PCA) contracts for certified IMS stations, the Group takes note of the continued activities of the PTS in the standardization of the services provided under PCA contracts and reiterates its call to all States Signatories to cooperate with the PTS in a joint effort to lower life cycle costs, including those relating to PCAs.
(i) On the status of and options for the Equipment Storage and Maintenance Facility (ESMF), the Group would like to reiterate its request to receive more information on the implication and estimated costs of the proposed options as soon as it is available.

5. The Group notes the radioxenon emissions pledges signed by industries producing radioisotope for medical application and further notes their voluntary nature. The Group would appreciate being kept appraised by the PTS of any action it takes on this issue.

6. Regarding the methods of work, the Group would like to reiterate its position that meetings of Working Group B should remain within the limits of the current sessions, so as to allow for efficient consideration of issues currently on the agenda of Working Group B, while facilitating the attendance at the meetings by experts from capitals.

7. To conclude, Mr Chairman, the Group of 77 and China looks forward to continue 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.

8. Finally, the Group of 77 and China notes the unavoidable circumstances surrounding the inability of the Chairperson of Working Group B, Dr Joachim Schulze, to attend the Forty-Fifth Session. The Group thanks the Chairperson of the Preparatory Commission, HE Ambassador Abel Adelakun Ayoko of Nigeria, for stepping in to chair the first meeting of Working Group B. The Group also welcomes the decision of the extended bureau called by the Chairperson of the Preparatory Commission to discuss the issue and the mandate given to the Chairperson to appoint Task Leaders to facilitate the meetings of WGB as well as his decision to chair the plenary of the WGB. The Group notes that this incident underscores the need for the Commission to put in place the process and procedures for the appointments of Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons for the two subsidiary bodies of the Preparatory Commission.

9. While thanking Ambassador Ayoko for chairing the open-ended working group on the procedures for appointment of Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons of both Working Groups, the States Signatories are urged to cooperate and ensure that a consensus is reached on this important process as soon as possible. The Group wishes to convey its goodwill for the early recovery of Dr Schulze.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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