American Middle East policy is forcing the Palestine Liberation Organization into a "crucial and fatal corner" from which it will have to defend itself, Yasser Arafat said in an interview broadcast yesterday.

Asked if that "defense" might involve PLO attacks on U.S. installations abroad, Arafat said:

"I'm not saying definitely how I would deal... But, for example, if you put a cat in the corner, it will defend itself. So, what about if you put 4 million Palestinians in this corner? And you [Americans] are insisting on putting us in this corner -- in this very crucial and fatal corner."

Arafat's criticisms were aimed at the Camp David proposals for peace between Egypt and Israel. One of the proposals from the September meeting would provide for Palestinian "self-rule" in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

"Self-rule, we are against it, definitely. Our people will not accept this new slavery which has been offered to them," Arafat said in an interview taped in Beirut and shown on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM).

He said he was especially disappointed by President Carter's role in the Camp David talks.

"I am very sorry to say that President Carter has had a complete retreat from the previous slogans he had said about the PLO and the Palestinian people," Arafat said.

"You remember that, in the very beginning, he mentioned some very good phrases about a homeland for the Palestinians... and about self-determination.

"But you see, after Camp David, see what he has offered to all my people -- new slavery, self-rule," Arafat said.

Speaking of the Camp David accords, he added: "They signed and they threw this agreement in our face and said: 'This is what you can have, and nothing more.'"

The PLO leader said he expects Egypt and Israel to sign a peace treaty as called for under the Camp David accords, but the Palestinian people still would continue their struggle for their own independent homeland without Egypt.

Arafat warned that there can be no Middle East Peace agreement unless the PLO and the Soviet Union are included as parties to the treaty.

"Peace in this area has to be settled by the United Nations and particularly by the two superpowers," he said, referring to the United States and the Soviet Union.

"Without the Palestinians, you shall not have peace in this area; and without the Soviet Union, you shall not have complete peace in this area," he said.

On other points, the PLO leader:

Claimed Israel has 12 to 15 atomic bombs in its arsenal.

Said he thought Jordan's King Hussein would spurn the Camp David accords, which call for Jordan to play a major role in the transition of power in the West Bank. Arafat said he expects to visit Jordan soon.