Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev warned today that any attempt to deploy American nuclear missiles in Western Europe with sufficient range to reach Soviet targets is "a dangerous game [played] with fire."
Brezhnev's warning was contained in a brief, general description of Soviet disarmament policies he made at a Kremlin meeting with a Socialist International working group gathered here to review world disarmament proposals.
The Soviet news agency Tass said Brezhnev, whose comments were made before President Carter's speech, labeled "a lie" Western warnings of a "Soviet threat."
"This lie is needed by the initiators of the arms race, including those who are now pushing plans for turning Western Europe into a launching pad for American nuclear weapons targeted on the U.S.S.R.," Tass quoted Brezhnev as saying. "These forces are playing a dangerous game with fire. The Soviet Union does not threaten anyone, and does not intend to, nor ever will, attack anyone," Brezhnev asserted.
These were the strongest words in his statement, clearly reflecting Soviet concern about American efforts to deploy the Pershing 2 intermediate-range rocket, which can find targets well inside Soviet territory from bases in Western Europe. West Germany has agreed to accept the missiles if one other NATO neighbor also agrees as a European deterrent to massive Soviet forces gathered in Warsaw Pact nations.
Brezhnev's remarks led to speculation that the Soviets believe the Cuban troop crisis may lead to a stepped-up U.S. effort to deploy the advanced missiles close to Soviet territory. The Soviet president's remarks on European deployment of such systems were the toughest to be found in an otherwise bland statement, and he made them just hours before President Carter announced U.S. counter-measures to the Soviet troop presence in Cuba.
Brezhnev is expected to make a major foreign policy speech in East Berlin on Saturday and reliable sources here suggest that it is likely to include the Kremlin's formal response to Carter's moves on the troops dispute. Moscow television has scheduled a tuo-hour program from East Berline, where Brezhnev will help makr the 30th anniversary of the founding of the East German state.
Any detailed response from the Soviets likely will wait until that address.