Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth W. Dam addressed millions of Soviet television viewers on arms control issues tonight. It was the first time in recent years that a high U.S. official was interviewed on Soviet television and that his uncensored remarks were relayed in full.
During his six-minute interview, Dam explained President Reagan's attitudes and policies on arms control, including his latest proposals on reduction in strategic weapons.
The deputy secretary taped the interview in Washington last Wednesday, responding to questions by Alexander Druzhinin, the Washington correspondent of Soviet television. The interview was shown in full as the lead item on a prime-time international affairs program.
Observers here said the Soviet decision to air Dam's interview appeared to have been made in response to Reagan administration complaints about the lack of access for its spokesmen to addreess the Soviet population directly. By contrast, the administration argued, various prominent Soviet spokesmen enjoyed wide access to the U.S. news media.
In pressing for a greater access, the State Department recently barred Georgy Arbatov, a senior Kremlin adviser on American affairs, from speaking to journalists during his recent visit to the United States.
While according Dam six minutes of prime time, Moscow television followed his interview with an interview with Gene LaRoque, a retired admiral who has been active in the antinuclear movement in the United States.
LaRoque, who was asked almost the same questions as Dam, sharply criticized the Reagan administration's military policies and asserted that the president, while talking about arms control, was pushing a vigorous rearmament program.
The five-minute interview with LaRoque was followed by eight minutes of film on antiwar activities in New York, showing parts of a political satire titled "Freedom Ain't No Bowl of Cherries."
The sketches as well as interviews with members of the cast included charges that the Reagan administration was preparing for war and that a small group of banks and industries involved in the production of weapons is benefiting from Reagan's program at the expense of most Americans.
The moderator of the program, Alexander Bovin, summed up the 19 minutes of program from the United States by saying that Reagan's latest arms control proposals did not show any flexibility and could not constitute the basis for negotiations.
Another Soviet commentator in another television program earlier ridiculed reports from Washington that the president now intends to negotiate "seriously" with the Soviet Union on limiting nuclear arms. The commentator told the audience that by stating that he now intends to negotiate seriously, the president had indicated that his earlier protestations to that effect were not serious. If that is the case, the commentator asked, how do we know that this time Reagan means it?
In a related development, a Soviet newspaper reported today that about 300 Soviet construction workers, who walked off their jobs at the construction site of the new U.S. Embassy here, returned to their jobs last Wednesday.
The walkout, Moskovsakaya Pravda said, should teach the U.S. Embassy here that laws and rules of the host nation should be "strictly and undeviatingly observed."
The workers left their jobs May 23 in a dispute over the use by U.S. officials of a machine capable of finding electronic listening devices implanted in the structure. The device, said to be an X-ray machine, was described by the Russians as a health hazard, a charge the embassy rejected
The strike ended after the use of the device was terminated.