WASHINGTON – The United States said on Wednesday it was reviewing a UN agency's dealings with sanctioned countries such as Iran after documents showed the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) had supplied IT equipment to the Islamic Republic.
WIPO, which is based in Geneva, is a 185-member body that includes Iran.
- Iran: We will 'confront' new EU sanctions
- Iran: 2nd reactor in Bushehr by early 2014
- Expert: Secret war on Iran's nuclear program not working
According to correspondence between WIPO and the Iranian agency dealing with intellectual property, dated August 2010, the organization had apparently sent IT equipment to the Islamic Republic.
Such a transaction would be in violation of UN sanctions passed in 2008, meant to curb the development of Iran's disputed nuclear program prohibit the supply, sale or transfer of a range of materials and technology.
"We have made several inquiries to the WIPO Secretariat and requested any related documentation. We have received several project documents and are in the process of reviewing them," said David Kennedy, spokesman for the US Mission in Geneva.
"We are also working with like-minded countries to urge (WIPO) Director General (Francis) Gurry to conduct an independent, external investigation into past WIPO projects in countries under UN Security Council sanctions," he added.
WIPO's staff association has also complained internally that the organization's assistance to North Korea may be violating two UN Security Council resolutions.
In a letter to the head of WIPO's inspection unit, the staff association said WIPO's help with a "controlled intranet system" for North Korea raised ethical concerns, since it would not be necessary if North Korea allowed its citizens to access the Internet.
Legalist Matthew Parish said that the transfers to Iran might violate both UN and European Union sanctions.
"If it (the equipment) could have a military use, then it may fall foul of international prohibitions on dual-use technologies, as well as the absolute US economic embargo," Parish said.
"At the very least it is acutely politically embarrassing. Private corporations are avoiding exposure to Iran because of the bad publicity and for WIPO to try to rely on its legal immunities to escape political scrutiny seems brave," he added.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop