(Newsroom America) -- The U.S. State Department is investigating the shipment of computers and other sophisticated gear to North Korea and Iran by an obscure United Nations agency, despite UN- and U.S. sanctions in place against both nations as a means of halting nuclear weapons development.
Fox News reported that the expanding inquiry has raised concerns about how some UN agencies sidestep restrictions the world body has placed on all nations as a way to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.
The probe also calls into question how much UN member nations know about activities of the world body's agencies that they supposedly approve and supervise.
A senior U.S. official has said that, in this case, the head of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, may not be fully cooperating with the inquiry.
The probe comes following an earlier Fox News report in April which said WIPO appeared to be sending the sophisticated equipment using a complex method which appeared designed to bypass UN restrictions.
The shipments occurred in late 2011 or early 2012 and were financed by the United Nations Development Program, through offices in Beijing.
The report said the agency's actions also violate restrictions imposed by equipment manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, which forbids any HP gear being shipped to such regimes.
The U.S. is a member of WIPO but seemed initially oblivious to its activities.
"The State Department first became aware of a WIPO development project in Iran in early May 2012, while conducting a review of all WIPO projects in countries under U.N. Security Council sanctions," a department spokesman told Fox News. "We have made several inquiries to the WIPO Secretariat and requested any related documentation."
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