WASHINGTON -- The United States' failure to pay $500 million in dues owed to the United Nations might undermine the world body's efforts to deal with the situation in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.
Thomas R. Pickering said that the positive role played by the world body against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait made it necessary that the United States pay its dues. He said he was disturbed by the fact the United States was the United Nations' largest debtor, something he said had put in question "our leadership" in the Security Council.
He said, and committee members agreed, that for the first time in its 45 years of existence the United Nations had acted in accordance with the goals it was created to pursue.
"If the new era now being defined is to include greater respect for a state's obligations under the charter, then we will need to do our own part to restore the financial health of the organization," Mr. Pickering said.
He pointed out a number of recent accomplishments scored by the United Nations in finding solutions for conflicts between Iran and Iraq and in Namibia, Cambodia and Central America.
However, he said the administration would not seek U.N. permission to retaliate if U.S. troops in the region were attacked by Iraq forces.
Since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, the Security Council has passed seven resolutions on the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein's troops and restoration of the previous government. The council is now working on an air blockade that will deny overflight rights for aircraft carrying embargoed goods for Iraq.
The ambassador also said that the United Nations was prepared to take "appropriate action" against any country that violates sanctions.