Administration officials say that four possible arms control positions--one to stand pat and the other three involving new proposals to Moscow in the talks on missiles in Europe--are being prepared for President Reagan and should be ready for him to review in about a week.
The work on alternatives is in response to increasing pressure on Reagan, in Europe and here, to make some new proposal at the deadlocked talks in Geneva, even without any sign from the Soviets that they are willing to compromise.
While cautioning that other options also may emerge, sources said that these broad alternatives now are under study for Reagan:
* To stand pat. This means sticking with Reagan's original zero-zero proposal of November, 1981, under which the United States would forgo the scheduled deployment in Europe of 572 new Pershing II and cruise missiles, beginning in December, if the Soviets agreed to dismantle all their existing intermediate-range missiles.
The Soviets have rejected this.
But some think that if Reagan sticks with it the Soviets will be led to bargain more readily as the date for deployment draws near.
* A second alternative is to have each side limit itself to 100 missile launchers and 300 missile warheads, or some variation, with no restrictions on the types of missiles involved.
The United States thus could deploy some Pershing and some cruise missiles. The Soviets would have to reduce their current force of 351 mobile SS20 missiles, each of which carries three atomic warheads.
* A third possibility is decribed as "build up, build down." Under this plan the United States would begin to field its new missiles and the Soviets to dismantle theirs until they were roughly equal. Then both sides would start to reduce their forces.
* The fourth alternative is reportedly a more comprehensive interim plan involving limits not just on SS20s but on other Soviet medium-range missiles and aircraft on both sides capable of carrying atomic bombs.
Although many White House and State Department officials think Reagan eventually will approve some new proposal, they warned that it is not certain. Earlier this week the president told aides he was interested in exploring some interim proposal, but stopped short of saying he had decided to act, high level sources said. And some in the administration want Reagan to hold fast.A senior Pentagon official, speaking to reporters yesterday on condition that he not be named, made it clear that the Defense Department does not favor interim proposals.
This official said "there is not going to be any serious proposal from the Soviets until deployment starts. They will know then that their plan to block deployment" of the U.S. missiles "has failed."
Each of the alternatives under study has problems.
Standing pat means rejecting the clear public recommendations of the leaders of West Germany and Italy plus the known desires of Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium--the five countries that are scheduled to receive the U.S. missiles.
Administration officials are known to feel that the public positions of the allies may have undercut the U.S. bargaining position.
The proposal to limit deployment to 100 missiles a side, because it would leave the United States free to deploy the Pershing, is almost certain to be rejected by Moscow. Pershings could reach Soviet soil within 10 minutes of launch from West Germany and arrive with almost no warning.
The "build up, build down" plan, officials said, could be challenged as wasteful, because the government would deploy missiles only to take them down.
Some sources said the more comprehensive plan would be too much to attempt at this point.
Because the administration will face increasing pressure this year as the deployment date approaches, including anticipated demonstrations in Europe, officials said it is best to concentrate on the SS20s now and save other aspects of a more comprehensive plan for later this year in case they are needed to offset public pressure.
Allied leaders have made clear that for them to carry out the deployments the United States must be perceived as having made a good-faith effort at Geneva, even in the face of Soviet intransigence.
Another factor pointing toward the likelihood of some new U.S. move is that the chief U.S. negotiator at the talks, Paul H. Nitze, is known to favor an interim proposal and believes that it is politically necessary for allied leaders.