The United States is prepared to do whatever is necessary to bring about an equitable nuclear arms limitation agreement, even if it requires a summit meeting between President Carter and Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhev, U.S. Arms negotiator Paul C. Warnke said yesterday.
"I think that the interests of both countries so much lie in having effective control over strategic nuclear arms that we will, in fact, find some means of achieving that," Warnke said in an appearance on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WTOP).
Asked if those means of achieving an agreement could involve a face-to-face Carter-Brezhnev meeting, Warnke replied: "It could very well involve that."
Warnke said he could not speculate if such a meeting might occur before Oct. 3, when the current U.S.-Soviet arms limitation agreement expires.
"But I know that we are prepared to deal at whatever level is going to bring about the result we feel is essential for the United States and the human race," he said.
Warnke said: "I think that President Carter is both a practical man and a persuasive man, and I'm sure that he would be anxious to exercise his advocacy at that level if that became necessary."
The strategic arms limitation talks hit a snag in Moscow on March 30 when Soviet leaders roundly rejected a U.S. proposal for mutual reducations in numbers of nuclear weapons.
Warnke vigorously denied yesterday that the rejection was tantamount to a U.S. failure in the arms talks.
I don't think that the mission failed," he said. "I think that we presented our proposal and that we are prepared now for negotiations."
"I don't think that you can take a look at those [days] in the Soviet Union as though they were divorced in time and context from everything else," Warnke said.
He said he believes the Russian response to the Carter administration arms limitation proposal "was not an unexpected one."
"It was, after all, a very comprehensive and quite dramatically new proposal that we advanced to them . . . I think that they have to study it and I think that they will, in fact, respond," he said.
The United States, in turn, would be "anxious and responsive to any sort of suggestions that they [Soviet] might have as to changes or adjustments that they might feel are desirable in the comprehensive package that we have presented," Warnke said.
He said the United States is not "hanging tough" on its original proposal "because you can't go into a negotiating situation and hand out an ultimatum."
Warnke noted that both the United States and the Soviet Union have the capacity to accelerate arms competition should all arms limitation efforts fail. He said this country would not shrink from competition.
"You either come to an agreement or you're going to have new arms development on both sides," he said. "I think those are the alternative. Really, they're the only possibilities."