U.S. to defer contributions pending UNDP audit

Joong Ang Ilbo

Washington said Thursday it will withhold all contributions to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), an agency accused of mismanaging its North Korea activities that led to a large, steady influx of cash into a regime suspected of seeking nuclear weapons.

The United States would also consider proposing that the UN stop all programs in the North except those for humanitarian assistance, said Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, acting U.S. envoy to the United Nations. He said the U.S. was satisfied with UNDP’s announcement of steps to remedy the situation, including an audit and readjustment of its 2007-2009 North Korea program.

“In the meantime, until we get the results of that audit and the program is reviewed, we would defer approval of the new program for the DPRK.,” the envoy said. “The U.S. also withholds its contribution in part to UNDP to the DPRK program,” he said. DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Japan went further, its envoy suggesting the UN stop all programs in North Korea except for direct humanitarian aid. Mr. Wolff said the Japanese argument “is quite compelling” and added the U.S. will consider the proposal.

At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack denied that the UNDP probe is targeted at Pyongyang. “This is not a U.S.-North Korea issue,” Mr. McCormack told reporters. “This is not directed at North Korea. This is simply an issue of management and oversight of UN programs. The secretary-general and executive director of UNDP understand it as such.”

The UNDP has been accused by Washington of mismanaging its aid in North Korea, resulting in a massive cash flow into the Pyongyang regime through hard currency payments to the North Korean government and local employees and vendors.

Ban Ki-moon, the new UN leader, asked for an overall audit of all UN funds and programs, starting with the first report on North Korea to be completed within 90 days.

Pyongyang in a statement claimed strict conformity with UN regulations.


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