IRD: Could you please provide a summary of your background and involvement in Iran’s nuclear program?
PJ: I was a British diplomat for 33 years. As UK Permanent Representative in Vienna from 2001 to 2006 I had to handle the Iranian nuclear question in the IAEA Board of Governors. I am now a trained mediator, working as a partner for the consulting group ADRg Ambassadors.
IRD: In 2003, Iran agreed to suspend all enrichment-related activities, and did so for about 2.5 years. What where the circumstances in which enrichment was restarted? How has that affected the current state of affairs with respect to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program?
PJ: Iran’s leaders concluded around April 2005 that there was little point in pursuing the dialogue with the European Union (EU)3 (France, Germany, UK) launched by the October 2003 "Tehran Agreement", because they sensed the EU3 were not open to compromise on the future of Iran’s enrichment program. In August 2005 they asked the IAEA to remove the seals on the Isfahan UF6 production plant. The EU3 responded by proposing that the IAEA Board find Iran non-compliant on account of the pre-2003 safeguards violations reported by the IAEA Director General, in the hope that fear of a non-compliance report to the UN would spur Iran to resume suspension at the UCF. The Board found Iran non-compliant in September but decided not to report this to the UN till an unspecified future date. Iran did not re-suspend the production of UF6. Instead in January 2006 Iran resumed the production and testing of centrifuge machines. So two months later the Board of Governors decided to report Iran’s past non-compliance to the UN and to ask the Security Council to turn suspension into an “international obligation” under Ch. VII of the UN Charter.
The creation of this obligation may well have complicated the search for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. The West has been reluctant to allow Iran, which has continued to engage in several enrichment-related activities, to defy the will of the UN Security Council with impunity, and equally reluctant to recognize that suspension no longer serves a useful purpose. Back in 2003 suspension imposed a halt on Iran’s attempts to master enrichment technology. Now IAEA reports suggest that Iran has overcome most, if not all, of the technical problems involved and has a basic centrifuge enrichment capability.