Soviet Premier Alesei Kosygin yesterday angrily denied at a Kremlin meeting with U.S. senators that RUssian Mig-23 aircraft supplied to Cuba can carry a nuclear bomb to America in violation of the 1962 understanding ending the Cuban missile crisis.
Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.), coleader of the 12 senators visiting here to discuss arms control and other bilateral issues with top Soviet officials, raised the controversy at a meeting with Kosygin in the Kremlin Council of Ministers.
According to senators, Kosygin reacted sharply to the suggestion that the planes had an offensive capability in violation of the understanding that banned offensive weapons from the Caribbean island.
"You are here to talk about strategic arms and yet you bring up something like this?" he is reported to have retorted. "Those are defensive aircraft only."
One senator, however, scoffed at the idea that the jet aircraft are offensive. They are not included in authoritative weapons estimates as offensive aircraft.
"I could hang an H-bomb from a Piper Cub and call that an offensive weapon," he said.
Ribicoff and the other senators, whose coleader is Sen. Henry Bellmon (R-Okla.) also raised human rights issues, Soviet military ventures in Africa and Russian support for anti-Israeli Mideast nations such as Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, it became known that the letter sent to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko regarding human rights questions included the names of an estimated 200 persons whom the senators urged be allowed to leave the U.S.S.R. as a gesture to improve bilateral relations.
It was learned that the list named Anatoly Scharansky, ALexander Ginzburg, and Yuri Orlov, as well as Vladimir Slepak, all prominent dissidents now imprisoned or exiled by the Kremlin. The senator's letter asserted that the Russians must understand that such issues as human rights repressions in the Soviet Union cannot be separated from a new strategic arms limitation agreement should it come to a ratification vote in the Senate.
Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), who dined Wednesday night with a senior Soviet official, said he gave the man a book containing the names of "thousands" who had written seeking the release of Slepak, a Jew who was refused emigration permission for eight years and who was exiled to Siberia this summer on rowdyism charges.
A knowledgeable Soviet official said yesterday that Jewish emigration from the U.S.S.R., which has been about 2,500 a month this summer and fall, jumped to 4,000 in October.
Prominent Soviet physicist Benjamin Levich said last night he has been told he will receive an exit visa as soon as he submits all needed documents. He and his wife hope to join a son in Israel within a month.