As negotiators depart Vienna after weeks of talks on the Iran nuclear agreement, UN sources warn that the Biden administration may be aiming to rejoin a controversial UN institution situated in the same Austrian city.
As a result of its dual-use technology transfer, the UNIDO has been accused of aiding the likes of North Korea and Iran in their nuclear weapons development efforts.
Since the United States left the organization some 20 years ago, diplomats have been scratching their brains over recent rumors of a comeback. “Diplomatic circles in Vienna are abuzz about the possible return of the U.S. to UNIDO,” said a former Ambassador who was accredited to all international bodies in Vienna and wished to remain nameless.
The ambassador said, “it’s believed the amount of money owed in accrued arrears would be US$ 1B, given that when the US left in 1996, it did so without paying its $100-million in dues.”
The diplomat suggested that the new Ambassador to Vienna, Laura Holgate, should “request the personnel list of UNIDO, which has about 1800 consultants, including those hired without a transparent and competitive process and working remotely from their home countries. It is long overdue to comprehensively investigate and publish, why UNIDO, which is considered both marginal and useless by the Anglosphere states, should employ 1800 permanent consultants, apart from the 650 permanent staff?”
With no response from the State Department on whether or not the United States would be rejoining the United Nations Environment Program (UNIDO) since 2012, the UN Mission to Vienna recently tweeted that the United States has funded millions of dollars to the organization through the United States Agency for International Development since 2012. (USAID).
If the $22.2 million was related to anything, a USAID representative told Fox News Digital that it was because it “prioritizes responsible stewardship of U.S. taxpayer resources.”
Not directly answering concerns concerning the transfer of dual-use technology with U.S. adversaries like Iran and North Korea, UNIDO’s spokeswoman did not respond. As for how it monitors UNIDO, the spokesperson stated that it “includes routine reporting and communications with UNIDO, as well as site visits and evaluations.“
John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, and other UN and national security professionals were among those who voiced strong opposition to the idea of a US return.
According to Bolton, Fox News Digital spoke with him “The U.S. withdrew from UNIDO, as did a number of other developed countries, because UNIDO was widely viewed as ineffective. Nothing has changed that warrants reversing the U.S. decision.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Brett D. Schaefer, a UNIDO specialist, told Fox News Digital: “As the U.S. concluded in the 1990s when it withdrew, UNIDO does not have a clear purpose and does not contribute to U.S. foreign policy, economic, or development interests. There is no reason to rejoin other than the fact that the Chinese are active in UNIDO. Countering China should be a factor in decisions about participation in UN organizations, but not the only one. A central question must be whether U.S. interests are impacted by the organization. In UNIDO they are not.”
Schaefer went on to say that re-joining UNIDO might put the Biden administration in breach of U.S. law.
“In 2018, the Palestinians joined UNIDO as full members. Under U.S. law, U.N. specialized agencies that admit the PLO as a member are prohibited from receiving U.S. funding,” Schaefer said. “If the U.S. has provided funding since 2018, I believe that would violate the law.”
“Moreover, changing the law would undermine U.S. interests in supporting Israel and advancing peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In effect, doing so would greenlight Palestinian membership across the UN system,” he continued. “For decades, the U.S. has opposed Palestinian efforts to seek recognition and membership in UN organizations absent a peace agreement with Israel because they understood this as being harmful to the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort by removing incentives for the Palestinians to negotiate.”
UNIDO might help the Islamic Republic create a nuclear weapons device by transferring dual-use technology which can be utilized for both military and civilian objectives to the Islamic Republic.
UNIDO and Iran’s SCSRT inked a partnership agreement in 2015. Cooperation on “formulating industrial policies and strategies for investments in education, research and technology” was a key objective of the pact.
According to a representative for the State Department, “the United States is always vigilant concerning reports that Iran may be pursuing dual-use technology to enhance its nuclear program. Under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the acquisition of dual-use items requires the United Nations Security Council consent under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”
One of the UANI’s researchers told Fox News Digital that it was “unfortunate that the U.S. Mission to the UN saw fit to applaud UNIDO.” He revealed how Iran utilizes the United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO) for its own nefarious ends.
“The composition of the SCSRT (Iran’s Supreme Council for Science, Research and Technology)– which includes the President of Iran as well as several Government Ministers – shows how central both the SCSRT and UNIDO are to the regime’s scientific and technological policies,” Roth said.
“We know that Iran is prepared to exploit any avenue to advance its nuclear program. Even the most seemingly innocuous routes like academic exchange with European universities are targets,” Roth continued. “The problem of sharing ‘dual-use’ technology – civilian tech with military application – is especially acute and difficult to track. If the regime can make progress under the cover of UN agencies like UNIDO, all the better. Iran’s state-run media spills considerable ink publicizing anything which has the UN’s imprimatur.”
Inquiries to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Iran’s UN Mission, and UNIDO office in Tehran were unanswered.
Media inquiries from Fox News Digital on UNIDO and its new Director General, Gerd Müller, a German minister who served as Chancellor Merkel’s chief of staff, went unanswered. During his time as Germany’s development minister, Müller was accused of racism.
On the other hand, Roth is not confident that Müller will be able to fix UNIDO’s stated serious flaws and pro-Iranian government bias.
“With regards to the job itself, it looks like Müller will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor at UNIDO. China’s Li Yong continued funding Iran projects every single year during his eight-year term and clearly enjoyed good relations with Tehran,” Roth said. “Since Germany nominated him as its candidate, Müller has given no indication that he is concerned about dangerous tech getting into Iranian hands via UNIDO. Nor has he hinted that the existing programs will be reviewed. Bearing in mind Germany’s poor record when it comes to selling dual-use tech to rogue regimes, one would hope that Müller – as a senior German minister – would be especially determined to resolve these problems.”
Müller had a meeting with his IAEA colleague, Rafael Mariano Grossi, earlier this week. During the meeting, Fox News Digital requested a copy of the transcript to see whether Grossi addressed concerns about the use of dual-use technologies on the nuclear front with Iran and North Korea.
A spokesman for the IAEA pointed Fox to a tweet from Grossi congratulating Müller and discussing the areas of cooperation between the two organizations. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) responded to the tweet by noting that the subject of dual-use technology being used by countries like Iran and North Korea was not included.