Following are the written questions put to President Konstantin Chernenko and his answers, in unofficial translation. SOVIET ATTITUDE
President Reagan has said that the United States is prepared to resume a dialogue with the Soviet Union on a broad range of questions including arms control. What is the attitude of the Soviet Union toward President Reagan's expression of readiness for talks?
In the past, we have already heard words about the U.S. administration's readiness for talks. But they have never been supported by real deeds that would attest to a genuine desire to reach agreement on a just and mutually acceptable basis at least on one of the essential questions of our relations, particularly in the field of arms limitation and a reduction of the war danger.
Every time we put forward concrete proposals, they would run into a blind wall. Let me give some examples.
Such was the case last March when we identified a whole set of problems. Reaching agreement on them -- or at least on some of them -- would mean a real shift both in Soviet-U.S. relations and in the international situation as a whole. But what they did was simply to shirk responding to our proposals.
Such was the case in June when we proposed reaching agreement on preventing the militarization of outer space. This time we were answered, but with what? An attempt was made to substitute the very subject of negotiations. It was proposed to discuss issues related to nuclear weapons, i.e. issues which had previously been discussed at the talks in Geneva that were wrecked by the United States itself.
At the same time, the United States not only refused to remove the obstacles created by the deployment of new U.S. missiles in Western Europe but is going ahead with their deployment.
And what about outer space? Instead of preventing an arms race in space, we were invited to proceed to working out some rules for such a race, and in fact to legalize it. Obviously, we cannot agree to that. Our objective is genuinely peaceful outer space and we shall persistently strive for this objective.
These are the facts.
Turning now to President Reagan's statement which you have referred to. If what the president has said about readiness to negotiate is not merely a tactical move, I wish to state that the Soviet Union will not be found wanting. We have always been prepared for serious and businesslike negotiations and have repeatedly said so.
We are ready to proceed to negotiations with a view to working out and concluding an agreement to prevent the militarization of outer space, including complete renunciation of antisatellite systems, with a mutual moratorium -- to be established from the date of the beginning of the talks -- on testing and deployment of space weapons. This is precisely the way we formulated our proposal from the outset. Now it is for Washington to respond.
The Soviet proposal that the nuclear powers freeze quantitatively and qualitatively all nuclear weapons at their disposal also remains valid.
Agreement on that matter would mean mutual cessation of the buildup of all components of the existing nuclear arsenals, including delivery vehicles and nuclear warheads. The nuclear arms race would thus be stopped. That would radically facilitate further agreements on reductions in and eventual complete elimination of such weapons.
The White House still has before it our official proposal that the Soviet Union and the United States initially agree to freeze their nuclear weapons, thus setting an example for other nuclear powers.
There is a real opportunity to finalize the agreement on the complete and general prohibition of nuclear weapon tests. Should there be no such tests, these weapons will not be improved, which will put the brakes on the nuclear arms race.
Here, too, the United States could prove in deeds the sincerity of its declarations in favor of nuclear arms limitation. The United States can also prove it by ratifying the Soviet-American treaties on underground nuclear explosions. These treaties were signed as far back as 1974 and 1976. Prove it precisely by ratifying them and not by inviting observers, as suggested by the American side, who would merely dispassionately ascertain the fact of explosion.
The Soviet Union has repeatedly called upon Washington to follow our example in assuming an obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. Every time the answer was "no."
Imagine the reverse situation: the United States assumes an obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and calls upon us to reciprocate while we say "no," this does not suit us and we reserve the right to a first nuclear strike. What would people in the United States think of our intentions in that case? There can be no two views on that score.
I have mentioned several most pressing problems related to the cessation of the arms race and the strengthening of security. There are other important questions which, I believe, the president is well aware of. All of them call for solutions and for making concrete efforts. Unsupported by practical deeds, words about readiness to negotiate remain mere words. I believe the above answers your question. NO SHIFT SEEN
A view is widely spread that recently a shift has become discernible which could lead to better Soviet-U.S. relations. What do you think about this and what is your view of the prospects for these relations in the time to come?
Indeed, sentiments in favor of a shift for the better in Soviet-U.S. relations are widely spread in the world. This, in our view, reflects the growing understanding of the importance of these relations, particularly in the current international situation.
Unfortunately, so far there has been no ground to speak of such a shift in Soviet-U.S. relations as a fact of life. Is it possible? The resolution of the problems to which I referred earlier would help to bring it about.
I am convinced there is no sound alternative at all to a constructive development of Soviet-U.S. relations. At the same time, we do not overlook the fact that we have different social systems and world outlooks.
But if the responsibility which rests with our two countries is constantly kept in mind, if policy is oriented toward peace and not war, these differences not only do not exclude the search for mutual understanding, but call for it.
I have already said in the past and I wish to stress it once again: we stand for good relations with the U.S.A. and experience shows that they can be such. This requires a mutual desire to build relations as equals, to mutual benefit and for the good of the cause of peace.
Following is an abridged text of the the oral interview with Chernenko.
I want to use this opportunity to hear your opinion as to what specific steps the Soviet leadership would like to see after the American elections to get out of the current impasse in Soviet-American relations.
First of all, of course, the elections should take place in order to answer what will happen after the elections. The elections are in the future and therefore to determine now, in advance, what, when and where we are going to discuss is obviously too early. But you know our general official point of view.
Whoever is the president in America, our policy -- a policy of peace which we are carrying out persisently and systematically -- is going, I think, to remain the same. The same. That is why peace is the main question for us, and I think that any president who comes to the White House after the election will, I think, will be thinking about the same question.
As a matter of fact, two great countries can, as we became convinced in the past and are being convinced each day, can do a great deal, in fact they can do everything, in order that flames of another world war do not flare up. This is our objective, this is our direction, our general direction, and we think that any sober-minded person can understand us correctly.
We are doing this not because we . . . like it, but because we experienced in reality what such a war means, war without a hydrogen bomb, without such bombs. And what about a war with atomic bombs? We are now convinced that this is a very terrible weapon and naturally we would like to see in the face of American president a partner in this sacred human task -- for peace. LIMITED OPTIMISM
What about specific measures?
There [in the written answers] is our program on this score.
Are you optimistic about the present development of Soviet-American relations?
Well, there are considerable possibilities in Soviet-American relations, very considerable possibilities. We have been making attempts, and you know if we enumerate the numbers of our proposals, which we have advanced and which I mentioned in my answers, you can easily see that . . .
Chernenko's foreign policy adviser Andrei Alexandrov-Agentov: So far, there is no . . .
Chernenko: No, so far there is no serious shift, businesslike shifts, such moves which could convince people and which could be convincing in themselves. In principle, I am an optimist, an optimist, but that does not mean an endless optimism, since there are limits to everything. I think nevertheless that things are going to get normalized if the American side indeed takes some practical steps in the direction of the struggle for peace. Practical steps.
And should not both sides take some small steps?
You see, you will find the answers there. And not small steps but big steps that we have made in the direction of peace. But the White House is silent on this question. They are silent and they do not answer . . . or they do not even simply notice them. Or they consciously do not respond. One thing is clear: there has been no practical shift in the direction of peace by the White House. You can see that yourself.
It is necessary of course to translate those talks, all our agreements, questions and answers onto practical tracks. Here is the essence of the issue. It is not that we lack peace proposals, there are very many of them, but there are no practical solutions, no practical approaches for their resolution.
This is the most important point. And small steps, yes, yes, they only cloud people's eyes. That's it. But I believe that my answers to your questions are also one of our steps, our practical steps, on this important road.