10th Anniversary of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission
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State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Representative of the Secretary General,
Representative of the Mayor of Vienna,
Director General, Executive Secretary,
Executive Secretary emeritus,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the scientific symposium "CTBT: Synergies with Science, 1996-2006 and Beyond" which marks the tenth Anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation.
Austria and the United Nations enjoy a most fruitful and active cooperation. The Vienna International Centre as such has become a Viennese landmark. I am glad to say that the international community working at the VIC has considerably contributed to the cosmopolitan character which is typical for Vienna today.
It is our intention to develop Vienna, which is the only UN-Headquarters within the European Union, to its full potential. The main activities set by the VIC-based international organizations, the VBOs, mirror the integrated security concept we are aiming at. This will be the main focus of our future-oriented and dynamic host-country-concept: Vienna as a 21st century international security hub. I do not have to emphasize which eminent role CTBTO and IAEA are playing in this context.
Since its inception in November 1996, the CTBTO PrepCom has been growing in accordance with its important mandate reaching an annual budget of nowadays about 100 Mio. US-$. The Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) implementing this budget has been progressing well over the years in building up the International Verification Regime including its unique network of 321 Monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories worldwide. As this network will reach 90% completion by the end of next year, there is no doubt that the overall verification resources will be and actually are already capable of detecting, locating and identifying relevant events with unprecedented precision, thus serving as a powerful deterrent to any potential nuclear tester.
In this context, let me pay tribute to the staff of the Provisional Technical Secretariat composed of more than 260 international civil servants from 66 countries. Their commitment unfolded for almost a decade under the leadership of Executive Secretary Emeritus Wolfgang Hoffmann who is among us today and whom I shall hereby like to pay tribute to for his achievements.
His successor, the present Executive Secretary Tibor Toth has taken over with the same verve at an important junction for the Organisation, as the focus is progressively shifting from the build up of stations to the operational phase. In this transitional phase, capacity building through Training of national operators is playing an essential role. In this context, I am particularly glad to note that Austria has repeatedly contributed to this end by organising workshops, by building up capacities in neighbouring "National Data Centres", etc. as well as by channelling substantial funds for the Secretariat’s "e-learning initiative" through the preparation and adoption of a Joint Action in support of the CTBTO under the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy during the Austrian EU Presidency.
Be assured, Mr. Executive Secretary, of Austria’s continued support in the matter.
In view of the above, the complicated technical nature of the CTBTO’s work becomes evident. Therefore and in order to keep abreast with the latest developments in sophisticated nuclear verification technology, a close interaction with science is essential: Austria therefore commends the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) for organising this two day’s event to assure that the mandate of the CTBTO PrepCom is carried out as close as possible to the technological State of the Art. The presence of eminent scientists in this room will undoubtedly allow for this symposium to live up to its commitment of enhancing "Synergies with Science"!
On a closely related issue, Austria believes that renewed emphasis should also be put on the additional benefits of civil and scientific applications of the verification technologies in manifold areas including disaster mitigation.
Simply, it would not be understood by the public at large "as the technical tests proved successful- that data readily available would be kept inaccessible instead of contributing to the physical security of people in coastal areas, on airplanes, etc. I therefore welcome the initiative of the PTS to raise further awareness on these issues at the upcoming expert's meeting in Budapest [organised with the support of our Hungarian neighbours] and I hope that it will contribute to finding consensus on more permanent arrangements in the matter.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With 176 States Signatories, the CTBT is approaching universal status.
Furthermore, 135 States have already ratified the Treaty, including 34 of the 44 States listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty and whose ratification is necessary for its entry-into-force. I shall therefore solemnly reiterate my appeal to all those countries which have not yet done so to sign as well as to ratify the CTBT unconditionally and without further delay.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the host country of the CTBTO, Austria is glad to hold the discussions on the interaction of CTBTO with science within the historical and representative framework of the Hofburg. We hope that this traditional setting will be commensurate to the occasion and stimulate inspiring interactions at this important event.
Due to other obligations, I regret though not being in a position to attend the whole symposium. Let me nevertheless conclude by calling on all of you to unite our expertise and efforts to make this landmark treaty a lasting success which will, in turn, make this planet a safer place.
Thank you !