The U.S. State Department is investigating allegations of United Nations sanctions violations relating to transfers of technology to North Korea by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which is actually a part of the UN.
In a departmental press briefing on July 5th, State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell explained that the U.S. is engaged in an ongoing review of WIPO development projects “for both Iran and the DPRK”.
“We’re working with both the Director General and other member-states to institute reforms that will ensure future development projects are properly reviewed prior to being approved and implemented,” Ventrell went on to explain. “And we’re working in New York to ensure that the UN Security Council Sanctions Committees play a more active role in advising international organizations on how to remain compliant with UN sanctions.”
According to the original story broken by Fox News on April 3rd this year, WIPO circumvented the United Nations’ own security provisions when it made shipments to the North Korean government through China. The shipments under investigation include advanced computer technology and data-storage servers financed through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Beijing.
However, the World Intellectual Property Organization denies that the transfers violated UN sanctions, claiming that it was “part of WIPO’s technical assistance program” that has supported intellectual property “offices in developing countries to facilitate the processing of patent and trademark applications since the 1990s.”
Responding to an inquiry about whether the current scandal has undermined faith in the UN sanctions regime more broadly, Ventrell asserted that U.S.-UN interactions have in fact “shown real results for our national security, whether it comes to Iran’s sanctions or North Korea.”