On the eve of U.S.-Soviet summit in Vienna, the Soviet Union called on the United States today to follow up the conclusion of a new strategic arms limitation agreement with other arms control negotiations.
The Soviet statement, printed in today's edition of the Communist Party newspaper Pravda and distributed in advance last night, coupled its call with a warning that unspecified persons in the United States are trying to "thwart or at least emasculate" that SALT II accord.
"SALT II is not the end, but a very important next joint step on the road along which we have to advance further," the statement said in setting out the Kremlin's view of the meeting between President Carter and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
U.S. officials said the statement's tone was "quite restrained and subdued," suggesting modest Soviet expectations from the Vienna summit.
It specifically said that the signing of SALT II should provide impetus toward a successful conclusion of the protracted East-West force reduction talks being held in Vienna.
It also listed several areas for arms control negotiations, including reductions in nuclear arsenals, a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, cuts in the weapons of mass destruction and in conventional armaments. The Soviets also proposed talks aimed at reductions of military forces of major powers.
The statement, which was distributed by the official Tass news agency, made no mention of chemical and radiological warfare. It also omitted calls made last month for a conference on "confidence building measures" between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
While asserting that disputes should be resolved "by peaceful political means and not by force and threats," the statement blamed the United States for recent tensions in U.S.-Soviet relations.
"The development of U.S.-Soviet relations has become noticeably complicated in recent years. The reasons for this undesirable process should be sought primarily in the activation in the United States of circles that are opposed to detente (and) are striving to turn the world back to the Cold War, to new confrontations and unbridled military competition.
"At this time, when the SALT II agreement is to be approved and signed shortly, these circles are going out of their way to thwart the agreement or at least to emasculate its contents."
The statement made an oblique reference to Carter's decision to move ahead with the new MX missile system, indicating Soviet displeasure without suggestions that the decision would preclude future arms control talks.
In Moscow, a group of civil rights activists led by Nobel Peace Prize winer Andrei Sakharaov yesterday appealed to the Soviet government to release 17 of their imprisoned colleagues as a "gesture of good will" to accompany the signing of the treaty.
The group said that the release of the 17 persons including Anatoly Scharansky would help improve the Kremlin's image and credibility in advance of the forthcoming SALT debate in the U.S. Senate.