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January 15, 2009
Iran snags UN plum
Late last year, Claudia Rosett wrote an article detailing the way Iran has come to occupy key positions of power and influence within various agencies of the United Nations. She follows up with an update: Iran will chair the UN’s “flagship” agency: The United Nations Development Program, a position which will afford it greater influence within the lesser-developed world.
Still worse, the UNDP is not just any old U.N. agency. It is the U.N.'s lead development agency, the chief coordinator in the field of almost all the others, loaded with money, dispensing high-level advice along with more than $9 billion per year around the globe--some $5 billion of that from its own budget and another $4 billion or so on behalf of other U.N. operations.
Headquartered in New York, across the street from the U.N. Secretariat's landmark domino building, the UNDP is a vast bureaucracy, blanketed in diplomatic immunity, bankrolled both by U.N. member-state contributions and hundreds of opaque public and private trust funds (the U.S., which gives well over $200 million per year, is among the UNDP's top donors).
Boasting a presence in 166 countries, the UNDP moves money, personnel and equipment across borders around the globe with minimal independent oversight. It does not bode well to have this kind of outfit chaired by Iran, with its record of running networks for terror and sanctions-busting nuclear procurement.
Prone to collaborating on "development programs" with some of the world's worst tyrannies, from North Korea to Syria to Zimbabwe to Iran (where it fields a big office), the UNDP has inspired quips in recent years that its initials might better stand for "UN Dictators Program," or that maybe, in the tradition of Oil-for-Food, the agency should be re-named "Dollars for Dictators."
Among the travesties already committed by the UNDP-enabling North Korea’s nuclear program.
A Senate subcommittee investigation, led by Sens. Norm Coleman and Carl Levin, further discovered, as disclosed in a January 2008 report, that the UNDP in North Korea had transferred funds to North Korean front entities involved in arms and nuclear proliferation networks.
Some of these entities were in Macau. During a trip to the Far East last fall, I dropped by two of the addresses with which, according to the subcommittee's exhibits, the UNDP in Pyongyang had been doing business. One was a basement supermarket, which the clerks said had been in business at that address for years. The other turned out to be a locked apartment in a residential high-rise.
The UNDP now proposes to re-open its North Korea office, following a "roadmap" offering assorted promises of good conduct. That begs the question of who will enforce discipline and oversight, not only for the UNDP's resurrected operations in North Korea, but around the globe.
This pattern of abuse at the United Nations Development Program occurred before Iran was in charge of the agency. Imagine the problems yet to come. Imagine you may have to since the media-with rare exceptions such as Claudia Rosett seem very incurious about your tax dollars being used to fund terrorism and nuclear proliferation.