The Soviet news agency Tass tonight carried an article rejecting the so-called "interim solution" that has gained popularity among some Western European policy makers as a way of resolving the current East-West impasse over intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
Tass said the "intermediate agreement" was "absolutely unacceptable to the Soviet Union" and hinted that any deployment of new American medium-range missiles in Western Europe could lead to the collapse of the Geneva negotiations.
The "interim solution" calls for each side to maintain a small number of medium-range missiles if total elimination of all such missiles cannot be achieved this year in the U.S.-Soviet discussions currently under way in Geneva. This would enable the United States to proceed with plans to deploy some of the medium-range missiles this year, a move Moscow opposes as a threat to its security.
The article distributed by Tass said that West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and British Foreign Secretary Francis Pym were proponents of this idea.
"The placement of the first Pershing II on West German territory and the first cruise missile in Sicily creates a new situation," it said.
"The Geneva talks on nuclear armaments in Europe would become deprived of the realistic basis upon which they are now being conducted if only because the Soviet Union would be forced to take immediate measures to restore the balance which had been disturbed in order to ensure for itself and its allies security equal to that of the NATO countries."
While the quick public rejection of the proposed "interim solution" may have an adverse effect on Moscow's propaganda efforts to win public support in Western Europe, the Soviets apparently felt the need to state emphatically that there can be no compromise on what they see as a major threat to their security.
This is particularly true of the planned deployment of 108 Pershing II missiles in West Germany, from which they could reach the Soviet Union in a matter of minutes.
Soviet public statements and private comments by officials here suggest that the armed forces chiefs are adamantly opposed to the deployment, which would give the United States first-strike capability. According to this view, the military chiefs do not see any possibility for negotiations with the United States if the Pershings are deployed.
If there is some room for compromise, according to well-informed officials, it could deal with the possible deployment of the much slower cruise missile, although the Soviet media continue to insist that the cruise is also a first-strike weapon.
The article attacking the "interim solution," which appeared in the English-language edition of this week's Moscow News, did not rule out the possibility of some sort of an intermediate agreement but spoke about "unacceptability" of the one advanced by Genscher and other West European politicians.
The only possible compromise the Soviets have suggested so far would be to limit the number of their intermediate-range missiles to 162, the same as the British and French strategic nuclear force.
The journal described the proposed "interim solution" as requiring Moscow to abandon the principle of "equal security."
It said the proposal, "in plain English, means that the Soviet Union" should reduce the number of its medium-range missiles while the Americans, in exchange, would not deploy 572 Pershing II and cruise missiles "as originally proposed but a smaller number" of them.
The idea that "just a few" new missiles would be deployed while the Geneva talks continue recalls the joke "that a woman cannot be slightly pregnant," the article said.
It recalled the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, raising the question of whether the United States would have at the time agreed to the presence of a smaller number of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, say 10 "or even two." It answered the question by saying, "No, it would not."
Although the article talked about both Pershing II and cruise missiles, the emphasis was on the planned deployment of 108 Pershing II missiles in West Germany.
The article said that NATO's medium-range nuclear capability now does not include first strike capability but that such capability "will certainly be provided by Pershing IIs, which will reduce Moscow's early warning time to six minutes."
Speaking about the planned cruise deployment, the article said that the Pershing II placements would be "further complicated by the problem of virtually invulnerable cruise missiles diving under the radar curtain."
The article said that the Soviet Union "has modified its position three times" on the question of medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe "while the United States continues to mark time with its so called zero option." Under the zero option, the United States would not deploy the Pershing or cruise missiles if the Soviet Union dismantled its medium-range missiles now targeted on Western Europe.
The appearance of a substantive commentary in Moscow News was somewhat unusual and presumably was designed to give western diplomats the opportunity to read in English the Soviet arguments against the proposed "intermediate solution." Tass distributed the main parts of the article to draw attention to it and give it a greater degree of authority than it otherwise would have had.
[Another Tass analysis published Thursday said the Soviet Union would not "make British and French nuclear missiles a subject" of the Geneva talks with the United States, The Associated Press reported. Tass said Moscow "does not propose a limitation or a cut in the nuclear forces of Britain and France."]
[Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, speaking in East Berlin the day after completing a visit to West Germany, reiterated his appeal to Bonn to reconsider its decision to deploy U.S. nuclear missiles, Reuter reported.]
Meanwhile, it has been learned that Valetin Falin, former Soviet ambassador to West Germany who subsequently became first deputy chief of the Central Committee's information department, has been removed from his post and appointed a political commentator for the government newspaper Izvestia.
Falin, who served as a foreign policy adviser to the late president Leonid Brezhnev, has been an influential Soviet spokesman on East-West issues and particularly on matters dealing with Moscow's relations with the two Germanys. His removal from the important Central Committee post was said to be linked to the conduct of members of his family.
There have been reports here that the new chief of the Central Committee propaganda department, Boris Stukalin, intends to abolish the information department. Its head, Leonid Zamyatin, was said to have been offered an ambassadorial job.