* United Nations agency sent IT equipment to Iran, N.Korea
* Equipment unavailable to them legally from elsewhere-probe
* U.N. agency WIPO says it has immunity from U.S. laws
GENEVA, Sept 11 (Reuters) - A probe into whether a U.N.
agency's shipments of computer equipment to Iran and North Korea
breached U.N. and U.S. sanctions criticised the exports but
found that they were legal.
" e simply cannot fathom how WIPO could have convinced
itself that most Member States would support the delivery of
equipment to countries whose behavior was so egregious it forced
the international community to impose embargoes, and where the
deliveries, if initiated by the recipient countries, would
violate a Member State's national laws," the report said.
The shipments, worth around $200,000, are the subject of two
U.S. government investigations into whether the Geneva-based
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) broke sanctions
aimed at curbing the development of nuclear weapons technology.
"The DPRK and Iran could not have legally purchased most, if
not all, of the U.S.-origin equipment ... due to restrictions
imposed under U.S. national law," said the report commissioned
by WIPO, the U.N.'s richest body, and signed by Swedish police
official Stig Edqvist and U.S. attorney John Barker.
The probe recommended that WIPO consider complying with the
national laws of member states even if it is not legally obliged
to do so and take steps to increase transparency.
WIPO says it is not subject to U.S. national law because of
its privileges and immunities as an international organisation,
the report said. U.N. diplomats and officials in New York said
that while compliance with member states' laws is not mandatory,
they are often followed to avoid unnecessary criticism.
"We found no evidence to call into question the initial U.S.
determination that the U.S. does not believe these projects
violated U.N. Security Council resolutions," said the report.
A WIPO spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the report
and considering its recommendations.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Louis
Charbonneau in New York; Editing by Louise Ireland)