Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev tonight called for a resumption of Soviet-American talks on limiting strategic, chemical and conventional arms, asserting that the Reagan administration "is incessantly postponing the dialogue."
The Soviet Union, he said, is prepared to reach accords "not only on the complete termination of all nuclear weapons tests but also on ending their further production" and on reductions in existing stockpiles.
"We are ready to agree to considerable reductions in nuclear armaments, but any violation of equilibrium in this field would be fraught with the breach of stability and would jeopardize peace," he said.
Soviet officials and the Soviet media have periodically called for the resumption of the strategic arms limitation talks. Both the Soviet Union and the United States have said they will adhere toSALT II, concluded in 1979, although the United States failed to ratify the treaty.
The Soviet leader, in remarkably moderate language, said he believed it "necessary to speed up the resumption of Soviet-American talks on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear arms."
Brezhnev said that "the primary task" was to reach "constructive results" at the U.S.-Soviet talks on medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe, which are currently under way in Geneva.
Brezhnev's statements came in a reply to questions submitted to him in writing by an Australian peace group.
"Although Europe lies thousands of kilometers away from Australia, we believe that this task has a global significance because a nuclear conflict in Europe would be bound to escalate into a world conflict," Brezhnev said.
The government news agency Tass, which distributed the text of Brezhnev's replies, said the Australian organization, whose name it did not give, had sent identical questions to Reagan.
[In Washington, the White House was unable to immediately confirm whether it had received a communication from such a group.]
The Geneva talks, which began in November, have made no apparent progress so far. Both sides have made proposals for reducing or even eliminating medium-range missiles in Europe, but they promptly have been rejected by the other side.
While Brezhnev in his reply to the peace group used a calm and reasoned tone, the country's senior military officer, Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, in a nationally televised speech last night, charged that Reagan's policies reflected "material preparations for a new war."
Ogarkov, who is chief of the Soviet general staff and first deputy defense minister, compared the current situation to the 1930s when Nazi Germany was preparing for world conquest. He warned those he termed "narrow-minded people" in Washington that a U.S. attack on the Soviet Union would bring them "the cruel end [that befell] Nazi Germany."
Ogarkov's address was apparently for domestic consumption. It was not carried by Tass or any Soviet paper. Ogarkov compared today's international situation to the period after the Bolshevik Revolution when the young Soviet state was in the midst of "a fiery ring of fronts" on all sides. He mentioned the brief American, British and French military intervention in 1918 against the Bolsheviks, but omitted the allied role in World War II.
Brezhnev's remarks seemed to be primarily aimed at Western public opinion in Moscow's continued efforts to encourage opposition to Reagan's defense policies.
[In Washington, the State Department said that while Brezhnev's remarks did not seem to break any new ground, the department was carefully studying the statement.]
Perhaps the only new element in Brezhnev's remarks was his stated willingness to begin talks with Washington on limiting military activities of the two sides in the Pacific.
He said Moscow was ready to "continue at any moment" talks on limiting military activities in the Indian Ocean, "which were interrupted by the American side."
He said the United States continued its procrastination concerning the 1974 treaty on limiting underground nuclear testing, which the Senate has yet to ratify, and he considered it "extremely urgent" to resume talks on banning chemical weapons "that were interrupted unilaterally" by Washington.
Brezhnev underscored Moscow's determination to maintain the existing balance of power. But he added that "military parity at the lowest possible level of armaments" was the basis of his policy.