Highlights of an interview given by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to an editor of Pravda, as translated by the official Soviet news agency Tass.

Q: How would you, Mikhail Sergeyevich, characterize the present international situation?

A:The development of the international situation has reached a line when the question arises: Where further can we go? Is it not time for those who shape the policy of states to stop, think and prevent the adoption of decisions that would push the world to nuclear catastrophe?

Q: Much is being associated in the world with the state of Soviet-American relations. Have there appeared, in your opinion, possibilities of their change for the better?

A: There is no simple answer to this question . . . . New Soviet-American talks on nuclear and space arms have begun in Geneva. This is a positive fact.

Jointly with the United States we defined the subject and aims of the talks . . . . Now it is necessary to carry out this accord. The talks are important ones . . . . Because the direction of the further development of Soviet-American relations and world development as a whole is now being decided.

The choice is as follows: either an arms race along all directions, a growth of the war danger, or strengthening of universal security, a more durable peace for all.

There are some shifts in other fields of Soviet-American relations but very small ones. On the whole relations remain tense.

They in Washington are banking on strength, and not concealing this. And they are counting on a superior strength that would subordinate the rest of the world to America. Diplomacy and talks there are virtually subordinated to missiles and bombers. For it is a fact that their new strategic arms programs are being pushed through Congress, among others, also by the people who on behalf of the United States are conducting the talks in Geneva.

Everybody has heard quite a lot about the "Star Wars" plans announced by the United States administration . . . . I would describe as fantastic the arguments used to substantiate the militarization of outer space. They speak about defense but prepare for attack. They advertise the space shield but are forging a space sword. They promise to liquidate nuclear arms but in practice build up these arms and perfect them. They promise the world stability but in reality strive to wreck the military balance.

Since people intuitively feel the danger of the "Star Wars" plans, the authors of these plans want to make them believe that these plans supposedly amount to nothing more than harmless research, which, moreover, supposedly holds promise of technological benefits. By using this bait the authors of these plans want to turn their allies also into accomplices in this dangerous project . . . . The creation of space arms will have only one result -- the arms race will become even more intensive and encompass new spheres.

Q:There is much interest in the question of the possibility of your meeting with the president of the United States. What are the prospects here?

A: The question of such a meeting was dealt with in my correspondence with President Reagan. I can say that a positive attitude to such a meeting being held was expressed from both sides. Its time and place will be the subject of subsequent arrangement.

In the broader plane the correspondence dealt with the finding of joint ways of improving relations between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. and imparting a more stable and constructive nature to them. I am convinced that a serious impulse should be given to Soviet-American relations at a high political level.

Q: What do you regard as the main lever for achieving a breakthrough?

A: If one has taken one's seat at the table to negotiate arms reduction, then one should at least refrain from increasing them further. That is why we propose that the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. introduce for the entire duration of the talks a moratorium on the development, including research, testing and deloyment of strike space arms and freeze their strategic arms.

At the same time the development of American intermediate-range missiles in Europe should be terminated and, correspondingly, the buildup of our reply measures.

The American leaders are declaring that they are for radical reductions of armaments. If that is so, it would be logical first to put a brake on the arms race and then immediately to go over to arms reductions.

We are for an honest dialogue. We are prepared to demonstrate our good will again. And starting with this day, and I want to emphasize this, the Soviet Union is introducing a moratorium on the deployment of its intermediate-range missiles and suspending the implementation of other reply measures in Europe.

The duration of the moratorium is until November of this year. The decision we will make after that depends on whether the United States follows our example: Will it stop or not the deployment of its intermediate range missiles in Europe?