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Alleged U.N. sanctions violations divide U.S. Congress, administration

All Headlines 05:13 July 25, 2012

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Yonhap) -- The Obama administration on Tuesday downplayed allegations that a United Nations agency illegally provided technology to North Korea and Iran.

But the U.S. Congress is still pressing the agency to come clean on its role.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), based in Geneva, is accused of having run a technology-supply project with the two nations, both under U.N. sanctions.

According to media reports, the 185-member WIPO, which promotes the use and development of intellectual property, has provided North Korea with desktop computers, servers, printers and firewalls. It has also allegedly shipped information-technology equipment to Iran.

"Our own preliminary assessment -- but we are still seeking more information from WIPO -- is that there doesn't appear to have been a violation of U.N. sanctions," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing.

She added the U.S. is still seeking more information from WIPO to conclude its work on the allegations, and the U.N. Security Council will make its own assessment.

"This has now been referred to the sanctions committee for them to make their own determinations, so we will await the views of the respective U.N. sanctions committees," she said.

The U.S. administration's approach is contrary to an aggressive congressional campaign against WIPO.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee strongly criticized the organization for refusing to cooperate in its probe into the case.

"Director-General (Francis) Gurry (of WIPO) is obstructing this Committee's investigation ot WIPO's transfer of U.S.-origin technology to rogue regimes under international sanctions -- a transfer that occurred on his watch," Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), committee chairwoman, and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), its ranking member, said in a joint statement Tuesday.

They claimed Gurry is obstructing a congressional investigation into the matter and urged WIPO to allow some of its members in charge of projects with North Korea and Iran to attend the committee's hearing.

lcd@yna.co.kr

leechidong@gmail.com
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