The Carter administration is ready to impose "very tough" new controls limiting the export of not only high-technology products but also industrial know-how to the Soviet Union, administration officials said yesterday.
The idea, officials said, is not just to tighten controls on products of potential military value to the Soviets but also to restrict export of hardware or information to other key sectors of Soviet industry that conceivably could support the Kremlin's defense effort.
The new guidelines, which are expected to be announced today, are the result of a review by the White House and the departments of Commerce State and Defense. President Carter, in a Jan. 4 speech to the nation that outlined the broad U.S. response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, ordered a halt to the sale or licensing of high-technology or strategic items to the Kremlin pending such a review.
The United States will impose the restrictions now, but in an effort to broaden the impact, the restrictions also will be proposed to the Paris-based Coordinating Committee on export controls (COCOM), composed of the NATO allies and Japan.
In effect, the plan means that much tougher criteria will be applied to present controls and far fewer exceptions to those controls will be requested.
This will mean further restrictions on computer sales, including computer processing techniques known as "software," manufacturing techniques, including those for tiny electronic semiconductors, and specific strategic materials.
Immediately after the president's order, officials said yesterday, more than 400 licenses for exporting to the Soviet Union were suspended pending the review, as were about 300 license applications on file.Officials say that as the review process starts again under the new guidelines, a "substantial number" of those suspended licenses will not be reinstated.
Before the Afghanistan attack, officials said, about $200 million in high-technology items were exported annually to the Soviet Union. About 70 percent required exemption from COCOM rules. Almost all of that 70 percent, they estimated, will be cut out.
The request to the Europeans and Japan essentially will involve asking them to go along with a policy of fewer exemptions."We are asking for maximum cooperation" from the allies, one official said.
Whether the administration gets that cooperation will take months of negotiation to find out, however, and could determine how effective the U.S. action becomes.
Some officials believe that if the new ban is adhered to, it could over the long run effectively retard modernization of Soviet industry in several key sectors.
The Europeans and Japan have thus far been reluctant to go along publicly or quickly with other U.S. actions, such as an Olympic boycott or restrictions on export credit guarantees to Moscow.
Some U.S. officials believe that the high-technology cutoff will be more acceptable because of its clearer relationship to military security questions and because it can be done more quietly by the allies "without standing up and punching the Soviets in the jaw."
The U.S. business community generally has been skeptical of some of the export embargoes, believing that the Soviets can simply go to other countries to get what they need. That is why allied support is important. Some U.S. officials, however, also believe the idea that such technology is available elsewhere is overstated, and that the United States is still well ahead in certain critical techniques and products.
Nevertheless, White House aides made clear that they would view allied support for these measures as another test of western solidarity in making the price of the invasion clear to Moscow.
They described this attitude as another part of a new Carter administration effort to toughen its stance with the allies -- an effort that includes demands for greater defense preparedness, increased pressure for joining the Olympic boycott and pressure for some economic sanctions, such as the credit restrictions.