The U.N.’s Oil for Food disgrace rolls on, with this week’s indictment by a federal prosecutor in New York of the program’s former administrator Benon Sevan. But now a new dollars-for-dictators scandal is breaking into the open, this one involving the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.
Our Melanie Kirkpatrick lays out many of the gory details nearby, based on documents reluctantly produced by the U.N. after prodding by American officials. The tale is similar to Oil for Food in that money for programs designed to benefit North Korea’s poor appears to have been used instead to sustain the government. While the total amount of cash spent by the UNDP in North Korea isn’t clear thanks to the opacity of U.N. record-keeping, any hard currency is manna from Turtle Bay for the isolated Kim regime. If dollar amounts into the tens of millions over nine years are accurate, that’s money that would have helped Kim stay in power and continue his nuclear weapons program.
The documents we’ve seen follow the program back to 1998 and the era of detente between Kim and the Clinton Administration. But what’s especially alarming is that the UNDP’s programs have persisted in North Korea even as Kim has banished U.N. weapons inspectors, raised the volume on his threats, tested long-range missiles and even tested a nuclear weapon—all in defiance of the U.N.’s own stated positions and Security Council sanctions.
A defense that the UNDP merely does humanitarian work—for the people of North Korea and not the government—isn’t credible given the details exposed by Ms. Kirkpatrick. U.N. officials can’t even say with confidence that all of the “development” projects exist because they haven’t been allowed to visit their sites. Pyongyang officials insist on payments in cash that become fungible hard currency for the regime. Every U.N. dollar is one more that Kim doesn’t have to raise from other (and often illegal) sources to pay off his generals or to buy a nuclear centrifuge.
HT to Rob