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UN agency didn't break North Korea tech embargo

One server, storage array and router deemed not to arm axis of evil

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The United Nations has decided that one of its own agencies was not guilty of breaking sanctions by exporting technology to North Korea in a bid to help the axis of evil country with its burgeoning intellectual property rights.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) said it had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the UN Security Council Committee and added that it had already put in place measures to ensure managers in future seek legal clearance for “any activity proposed in a country subject to UN sanctions”.

WIPO had been undertaking a “technical assistance program” in North Korea which involved the “installation of computing and printing hardware, one server with a disk storage array, one network router with firewall and one printer” as well as the installation of accompanying software.

It has been claimed that the tech haul was worth around $50,000, with some commentators arguing that North Korea ultimately wants access to international patent records in order to improve its home-grown capabilities.

The investigation panel decided that this kind of commercial-grade office equipment probably couldn’t be used to start World War Three, and therefore Committee chairman José Filipe Moraes Cabral said the following in a letter to WIPO director general Francis Gurry:.

I wish to convey the Committee’s understanding that nothing in the Security Council Resolutions 1695 (2006), 1718 (2006), and 1874 (2009) prohibits the technical assistance program that WIPO has carried out in the DPRK, including the transfer of those items cited in your letters or its attachments related to the transfer of equipment and software aimed at assisting the DPRK in developing technical capacity for intellectual property rights protection. Likewise, the Committee does not consider the second phase of technical advice and assistance with the configuration of the equipment and database software that will be provided to the DPRK to be prohibited.

WIPO has yet to hear back about a similar UN investigation into a technical assistance program with that other axis of evil, Iran.

North Korea and Iran signed a deal earlier this month agreeing to co-operate in the future in areas such as IT, engineering, biotech and renewable energy. ®

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