The Soviet Union today underscored its displeasure with the Carter administration's stand on both human rights and nuclear arms control as Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance was "fine-tuning" the nuclear formula he will present Monday morning in the Kremlin.
Soviet strategy seems openly aimed at putting the United States on the defensive in this first testing round of bargaining with the Carter administration.
Through the Communist Party newspaper Pravda's authoritative weekly International Review, the Soviet Union criticized the new American administration for allowing the stalemate to continue on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) accord projected in 1974 and for interfering in internal Soviet affairs by "a farfetched plea of 'protection of human rights.'"
Vance said he did not intend to raise the sensitive human-rights issue in his opening statement Monday. He said U.S. concern "transcends individual countries or regions," and said he hoped this U.S.-Soviet disagreement "would not complicate" the nuclear talks.
Vance said he would not meet with any Soviet dissidents during his stay in Moscow - nor, American sources said, will any of his principal aides.
The main Soviet critique was on SALT. The Pravda article said that first the Ford administration allowed the "finalization" of the 1974 Vladivostok accord to be "dragged" on for an "unpardonably long time," and now after two months of Carter adminstration "no constructive steps are so far in view." This was a backhand poke at President Carter's outline last Thursday of innovations in U.S. SALT strategy that trouble the Soviet Union even before they are unveiled in detail.
Vance told a news conference at the U.S. embassy that he and his advisers worked through the day "fine-tuning" what he called "concrete and constructive proposals" he will spell out Monday.
"I don't believe we have been unduly long" in assembling a negotiating position on the extremely complex nuclear issue, Vance said. The new administration has "only been in office some two months," Vance said, and "I think we've been working diligently to get ourselves prepared for these talks."
The United States now has "sound proposals" to present and "is prepared for serious discussions," Vance sais.
Asked if he believes it possible to meet the Oct. 3 deadline on the present interim SALT accord, considering that the Carter administration is proposing a fundamental shift in the Vladivostok agreement to include "deep cuts" in nuclear weapon level, Vance replied:
"I think it is possible to have a comprehensive" accord of this nature if both sides "will work very hard" to do so by October. Privately, however, even administration officials acknowledge that the odds against attaining that objective are great unless there is a major turnabout in the Soviet outlook.
The United States is proposing two options and Soviet leaders plainly dislike both of them from what they have seen thus far. They are: "substantial reductions" in the weaponry limits set in the Vladivostok accords; or alternatively, approval of the Vladivostok ceilings without restraints on development of American long-range cruise missiles.
Vance today downplayed the signs of Soviet irritaion in the days leading up to the talks. Instead, he expressed appreciation at the "cordial" reception he received from Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Cromyko when the two traveled into Moscow by car from the airport after Vance's arrival last night.
Vance said he told Gromyko that if "the talks are making progress," I would be happy to stay as long as necessary. "Asked what Gromyko replied, Vance said, "I was encouraged by his response."
Tonight, Gromyko played host to the Americans at a dazzlingly costumed performance of the ballet "Anna Karenina" at the Bolshoi Theater, an unusual role for Gromyko. The Soviet foreign minister chatted amicably with Vance and other Americans at the traditional buffect during intermission.
The American delegation still did not know tonight, however, if Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev will appear at the opening meeting in the Kremlin Monday or to what extent Brehznev will participate in the talks. In previous meetings of this kind with former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Brezhnev led the soviet delegation.