Every time you think it can’t get worse…. In the latest fillip of the UN’s North Korea Cash for Kim scandal, it turns out that the UN Development Program in Pyongyang was stocking the offices of Kim’s arms negotiators with books, including such titles as “Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Supremacy” and “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush administration.” More on this in my column in today’s New York Sun.
Not that North Korea’s officials, including their representatives at the UN in New York, or their delegates to the UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva, couldn’t have ordered these books right off Amazon for themselves. But this way, the UNDP (to which the U.S. is the top donor) got to provide North Korea’s extortionist arms negotiators with a reading list giving free rein to the political biases of UNDP officials and their European “peace” consultants; chalk it up quietly as part of a development project; and hire a Belgian company with offices in Beijing to order the books by express mail (what was the urgency?) and ship them almost three months later to Pyongyang at a total cost of about $100 per book… (and here we thought UN development money was going to help hungry North Korean children?).
This was just part of a series of “disarmament” projects run by the UNDP in North Korea from 1993-1997 and again from 2002 until this March. The information here comes from just one packing list and invoice which I have seen, but the UNDP has apparently been stocking the libraries of Kim Jong Il’s arms negotiators with books and specialized journals for some time. What else is in there? (manuals on Money-Laundering 101? Advanced Shakedown Techniques? $25 Million Ways to Lie to Chris Hill and Get Away With It?) The UN audit report on UN offices in North Korea, promised with so much bravado by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January, is now more than a month overdue, and the auditors have not bothered to visit North Korea. The UNDP by its own account has spent some $47.5 million on its North Korea programs over the past 10 years. May we please see the rest of the invoices?