Washington: A prominent international legal scholar has joined up Congressional investigators to demand a probe of an incident in which an obscure branch of the United Nations shipped sophisticated computers and other high-tech equipment to North Korea and violated UN's own sanctions against that regime.
John Yoo, who was a national security expert during the first Bush administration, and is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and specialises in international and US constitutional law, has demanded for an "independent, external commission" to investigate the incident.
Yoo said the equipment shipped by the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), “would allow North Korea to carry out simulations necessary to design highly sophisticated nuclear warheads...without the need for testing.”
According to Fox News, the under-the-radar shipments of Hewlett-Packard computers and servers by WIPO shipments took place in late 2011 or early 2012, and were financed through the Beijing offices of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Yoo claimed that the equipment transfer gives the regime of fledgling leader Kim Jong Un a significant boost in hardware and software "that could quite conceivably contribute" to North Korea's nuclear-related programs.
He stressed the WIPO shipments, which took place in late 2011 or early 2012, were in violation of even stiffer US sanctions that ban all computer exports to North Korea due to its role as proliferators of nuclear weapons technology and ballistic missile know-how.
However, a State Department spokesman denied that that WIPO's actions amounted to a violation.
The State Department declared that its own judgment was a "preliminary assessment”, and that it would await a ruling by relevant UN sanctions committees looking into the issue.
Yoo's opinion was reportedly echoed by other experts, including former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, and a former top-level expert at the State Department who now heads an important anti-proliferation centre in Britain, the report said.
First Published: Friday, July 27, 2012, 18:28