The United Nations is on the edge of bankruptcy and will have to close down by early November unless members reduce a $690 million debt, according to Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
More than $466 million is owed by the United States alone, which has paid only $862,000 this year toward its assessed 25 percent share of about $215 million for the regular budget.Officials said running the United Nations costs about $60 million a month.
Perez de Cuellar said if the cash crunch continues the world body will be completely out of money, with all reserves exhausted, by the end of October or early November.
"Insolvent, the organization will have to cease operations and will be unable to meet its commitments to member states and to staff," he said in meetings with representatives of regional groups of states.
The meetings were continuing on Friday in what officials said was a growing sense of crisis.
A senior administration official said in a newspaper report Friday the United Staes wants to resume paying its full share but is limited by current U.S. law aimed at forcing the the U.N. to make further progress on a reorganization promised in 1986.
"We are acutely concerned about the financial situation of the U.N.," Assistant Secretary of State Richard S. Williamson said in an interview with the New York Times.
"My personal view and that of the Secrtary of State (George) Shultz and Ambassador (Vernon) Walters in New York is that the U.S. should now be paying its full obligations," he said.
Williamson said withholding contributions can be a useful negotiating leverage but "we believe now that the fact we are not paying our full dues is harmful to the reform efforts we support."
Closing the United Nations in about four months' time would disrupt the main event of the U.N. year, the General Assembly which begins its 43rd session on September 20.