Mr Chairman,

1. The Group of 77 and China is pleased to see you, Dr. Schulze, chairing the Forty-Seventh Session of Working Group B, and would like to welcome as well the newly-appointed Vice-chairs that will accompany you. I want to assure you of the continued support and cooperation of the Group and we trust our discussions will lead to a productive outcome under your leadership.

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 2016 and on other matters under the agenda, as well as for his opening remarks. The Group would also like to thank the PTS for making documents available to States Signatories in advance of this session, and encourage further efforts to make all documents available well in advance of our sessions.

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, and the efforts towards improved timeliness of the reviewed products, in particular radionuclide stations.
(b) The Group is encouraged by the continued efforts, as reflected in the Report, to integrate capacity building and training activities, including a number of training activities and workshops held in States members of G77 and China, as well as e-learning tools and the NDC in a box (eNIAB) software package that has been recently released in July 2016. In this regard, the Group recalls the request made by the WGB in its last session to the PTS in order to provide a proposal for structured and holistic approach to capacity-building and looks forward to receive further information in this regard.
(c) Regarding the IMS, the Group takes note of the activities undertaken by the PTS during the reporting period, including the certification of two new stations and recent progress in a number of States, particularly in States members of the G-77 and China, towards establishment of stations and the certification of current installations. The Group recalls 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, and takes note in this regard of the prioritization of PTS-wide coordination to ensure that the three technical pillars of the Treaty (the IMS, the IDC and OSI) are supported optimally.
(d) The Group notes the report by the PTS describing the technical results of phase 5a of the IDC Progressive Commissioning Plan, as well as the papers presented by the PTS which provide a detailed road map for the activities envisaged under phase 5b. The Group is looking forward to continue the discussion on this issue. 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.
(e) The Group welcomes the contribution of the 2014 IFE in improving OSI capabilities and, thus, helping fulfill 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. In this regard, the Group recalls the OSI action plan for 2016-2019 (CTBT/PTS/INF.1343 and Corr.1) that adopted by the Prep Com , and looks forward to receiving further information by the PTS on the initial work undertaken in this regard.
(f) 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 Treaty’s verification regime.
(g) The Group would like to further encourage the Executive Secretary in its efforts to significantly improve the gender balance and the equitable geographical distribution across the Organization, including, while selecting new candidates for potential surrogate inspectors through the multi entry process during the third OSI training cycle. The Group requests the PTS to provide further information in this regard.
(h) Regarding the Equipment Storage and Maintenance Facility (ESMF), the Group notes its relocation to a temporary storage area (TSA) in Seibersdorf, Austria, was completed. The Group thanks the PTS for the information paper provided on the status of and options for the establishment of a permanent replacement for the ESMF (CTBT/PTS/INF.1369), under consideration, which clearly states that: “the estimated budget, financing arrangement and source of funding for the permanent facility will be proposed once a decision is made regarding the detailed technical specifications of the facility at the selected site and the support requirements”.
(i) Furthermore, the Group requests the PTS to provide clarification on the process already in place and on the indicative timeline associated with the project, as well as its financial implications, in a timely manner, in order to allow for a full discussion by the Prep Com and its subsidiary bodies.

5. The Group notes the radioxenon emissions pledges concerning production of radioisotope for medical application and further notes their voluntary nature. The Group would appreciate to receive timely information on any further activities by the PTS on this issue, if any, within the mandate given by the Preparatory Commission in accordance with the report of the Forty-Fifth Session of WGB.

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.

Thank you, Mr Chairman

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