Secretary of State Cyrus Vance yesterday personally condemned the Soviet Union's decision to put two prominent dissidents on trial this week as the Carter Administration intensified its response to those trials.
Vance read a sternly worded statement before television cameras at the State Department warning that the proposed trials will "inevitably affect the climate of (Soviet-American) relations and impose obstacles to the building of cooperation."
Later a senior official disclosed that the United States is canceling a highlevel science mission to Moscow later this month and is reviewing all its cooperative agreements with the Soviets.
However, Vance said he would still go to Geneva Wednesday and Thursday for strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
"We will persist in our efforts to negotiate a sound SALT agreement because it is in our national interest and in the interest of world peace to do so," Vance said.
Vance said he would raise the issue of the dissident trials with Gromyko. A State Department official added that Vance would give Gromyko a personal message on the trials from President Carter to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
The same official, giving a background briefing to reporters, said the United States had new information that the Soviets may do more this week than try Anatoly Scharansky and Alexander Ginsburg, two promiment dissidents. The official said information reaching Washington suggested the Soviet might be planning "what amounts to a surgical strike against the dissidents" in Moscow.
It was learned that this information refers to possible trials of Maria Slepak, 51, and Alexander Podrabinek, 24, two dissidents awaiting trial.
The State Department said it now sees signs of a "concerted and major effect against the leaders of the dissident community." This conclusion, he said, was an important reason for Vance's decision to make a personal statement yesterday.
The initial U.S. response to news of the Scharansky and Ginzburg trials was a lower-level statement from the State Department Friday.
Yesterday, Vance declared that the Moscow trials "violate fundamental principles of justice." He said Scharansky and Ginzburg are being tried "for asserting fundamental human rights guaranteed in international agreements entered into by their government."
He called the dissidents persons of "uncommon courage."
The cancelation of the science mission to Moscow is the second such cancelation. Yesterday as a protest of the trials, Vance told Barbara Blum, deputy director of the Environmental Protection Administration, to cancel a proposed trip to the Soviet Union.
The science mission was one a series of regular visits to discuss implementation of scientific cooperation agreements between the two superpowers. This was to be the annual meeting of what is called the Joint Commission on Science and Technology.
The cancelation carries a double message to Moscow, since Frank Press, Carter's science advisor, is off to Peking this week with a top-level delegation of U.S. science officials. That mission was likely to upset the Soviets in any case, and now it will not be balanced by a Press mission to Moscow.
Press had planned to travel to the Soviet Union later this month, just 10 days after his trip to Peking.
Just a week ago, administration sources revealed, there were highlevel discussions about the possiblity of canceling Press's trip to Moscow in response to Soviet attempts to try two American reporters in Moscow on civil slanders charges. At that time, the sources said, it was decided that the scientific cooperation agreement were too important and valuable in their own right to be jeopardized by such a symbolic protest.
Diplomatic sources in Moscow commented Friday that the timing of the Scharansky and Ginzburg trials on the eve of the Vance Gromyko meetings in Geneva looked like a deliberate provocation to the United States, which has previously spoken out publicly on behalf of both dissidents.
President Carter has personally declared that Scharansky had no connection with U.S. intelligence agenices. Scharansky is being tried for treason, apparently because alleged connections to the Central Intelligence Agency.
The State Department official briefing reporters yesterday said it would be "fruitless" to speculate on the timing of the trials.
The same official said the administration is reviewing all its cooperative agreements with the Soviets, suggesting indirectly that some might be dropped or curtailed. No decisions have been made, the official said.