Initial Soviet comments tonight appeared to rule out President Reagan's new proposals as the basis for reaching an agreement on limiting medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
A three-sentence report by the government news agency Tass on Reagan's proposals, which was distributed here more than 24 hours after his speech was made yesterday, referred to them as a "variety of the so-called zero option."
A commentary by the news agency Novosti said, "Washington has always been serious only in trying to get its Pershing II and cruise missiles deployed while everything else, including its entry into the Geneva talks, has simply been designed to facilitate this." Reagan's new proposals, Novosti commentator Spartak Beglov said, would in fact "enable the Pentagon to achieve its aim in stages."
The timing of the announcement, he added, "only underscores that the proposal is aimed at pacifying the masses of Europeans during Easter and lulling their vigilance so that they should find the first missiles at their threshold at Christmas."
There has been no authoritative response to Reagan's proposals. This is expected to come Saturday when Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko is to hold a press conference, his first since 1977. Gromyko at that time rejected the Carter administration's arms control proposals.
Reagan's proposals, as publicly stated, exclude the French and British strategic nuclear arsenals from the Geneva context as well as what the Soviets regard as U.S. forward-based systems such as strategic aircraft and submarines carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Novosti also distributed an interview with Gen. Yuri Lebedev of the Defense Ministry saying Moscow could not ignore the British and French arsenals and American forward-based systems.
News services added the following:
While NATO members endorsed the Reagan proposal Wednesday, the alliance's Permanent Council in Brussels Thursday also approved it after a briefing by U.S. negotiator Paul Nitze's deputy, Maynard Glitman. With Greece standing aloof, the ambassadors of the other 14 nations said the United States "has moved to open the way for significant progress in Geneva."
Japan, America's chief Asian ally, declared its full support for the proposal. Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said he would continue to tell Washington and Moscow that the number of Soviet missiles based in Asia should not be increased as a result of any U.S.-Soviet agreement.
The West German government, reaffirming support of Reagan's plan but fearful of violence at Easter weekend demonstrations, tried to block the antinuclear protests, which it said were communist-inspired and served the "threatening policies of the Soviet Union." The Social Democrats and the Greens party criticized Reagan's interim offer.
In Greenham Common, England, several thousand demonstrators blockaded two key defense installations at the start of a major protest against plans to deploy U.S. nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in Britain this year.