Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in an interview made available today, said there is "such a lack of confidence" between the two superpowers because of a "campaign of hatred" by the Reagan administration that he now views the prospects for his scheduled summit meeting with President Reagan with more "caution" than when it was agreed to two months ago.
In an interview with Time magazine, the Soviet leader said it appeared that Washington was setting the stage for a combative summit at which "even the slightest headway depends exclusively upon concessions by the Soviet Union."
U.S.-Soviet relations "are continuing to deteriorate," Gorbachev said, "the arms race is intensifying, and the war threat is not subsiding." But he said he felt "there is still time" to improve the atmosphere enough to "have a meaningful and businesslike talk."
In the interview last Wednesday, his first with a western publication since coming to power in March, Gorbachev showed a keen grasp of political currents and a deeply held sense of the current strains and restraints on U.S.-Soviet relations.
Speaking with few notes during the two-hour interview, the Soviet leader, according to western diplomats here, showed not only a detailed knowledge of recent policy speeches and position statements by President Reagan and other U.S. officials, including an Aug. 19 speech by national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, but also a remarkable facility to develop critical responses in the light of Soviet political interests.
The Soviet news agency Tass carried excerpts of the interview, and the transcript was read on the main evening television news program.
Gorbachev appeared well-tanned and in a good mood after a Crimean vacation and spoke firmly and with expression throughout, frequently making points with hand gestures and occasionally jesting about his activities or about American politics, according to Time, which will carry the interview in its Sept. 9 edition, published Monday.
Western analysts said that while Gorbachev's statements offered no substantive changes in Soviet policy, his straightforward, candid manner defined a striking departure from the stilted jargon of previous Kremlin leaders. These analysts said they felt that Gorbachev deftly projected some of the fundamental differences between the superpowers and gave the impression that he has a decisive will to overcome them. At one point, he stated bluntly that what he was saying "is the view of the Soviet leadership."
"This kind of performance at the summit will be a formidable force for the Americans to outdo," one western diplomat said.
A White House official said in Santa Barbara yesterday that McFarlane had recommended withholding White House comment on Gorbachev's interview until a full text could be studied.
State Department spokesman Peter Martinez said that the U.S. administration has "no illusions" about the state of relations between the two countries and that it will "take time to overcome our difficulties, and we will have to be both patient and determined."
[If Moscow is prepared to meet us halfway on the various issues, however, there is no reason that the progress Mr. Gorbachev says he desires should not be possible," Martinez said. He added, however, that "the importance we attach to the November meeting cannot keep us from speaking frankly about our differences with the Soviets. It certainly has not kept them from speaking frankly about us."]
Gorbachev's remarks came in six written answers to written questions submitted by Time and in a two-hour conversation. In addition to the planned November summit meeting, they also dealt with arms negotiations, the Soviet economy, the advanced-technology race and Soviet domestic politics.
He stressed Moscow's unyielding opposition to the Reagan administration's "very dangerous" Strategic Defense Initiative for a space-based antimissile weapons system.
He said he was seeking greater centralization and improved work discipline and management methods to improve his country's economy, and he spoke of a "deep restructuring" that he said was under way to improve government and economy throughout the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev reacted especially harshly to what he said was Washington's approach to the summit meeting, describing it as "a scenario of pressure, of attempts to drive us into a corner, to ascribe to us . . . every mortal sin."
He added: "It looks as if the stage is being set for a bout between some kind of political 'supergladiators' with the only thought in mind being how best to deal a deft blow at the opponent and score an extra point in the bout."
He said, "I will not hide my disappointment and concern about what is happening now," adding that Moscow "cannot but be troubled by the approach that, as I see it, has begun to emerge in Washington."
"If all this is meant seriously," he said, "then manifestly Washington is preparing not for the event we have agreed upon."
Gorbachev said the Kremlin is "preparing serious proposals" for the summit "and pinning serious hopes on it."
"Let me assure you that we certainly attach tremendous importance" to the summit, he said, "even though we do hear from the other side that they are taking a much more modest view of the meeting."
Gorbachev singled out a speech two weeks ago in which McFarlane accused the Soviets of pressing ahead with chemical and other weaponry and warned that improvement in relations between the two superpowers was unlikely "without some change in the Soviet approach to security issues."
Calling the speech a "lecture," Gorbachev charged that it contained a "set of accusations we are going to be charged with in Geneva."
Pointing to the unilateral Soviet moratorium on nuclear explosions, which the United States has refused to join, and Moscow's call for talks to ban nuclear tests and space weapons, he said, "We are persistently seeking ways to break the vicious circle and bring the process of arms limitation" back to life. You Americans could 'take revenge' by doing likewise."
The Soviet leader said the United States has responded to the Kremlin initiatives by launching another nuclear explosion and announcing a decision to test an antisatellite weapon. This, he said, created the the impression of "confusion and uncertainty in Washington."
Gorbachev said that the results of the November summit meeting between him and Reagan depend greatly on events taking place now.
"Actions today largely determine the scenario for our November discussions," he said, in an allusion to the arms-control steps the Soviet Union has announced in recent months, such as its moratorium on intermediate-range missiles, and the U.S. response to them.
"We must seek ways to put an end to the arms race, to seek disarmament, to switch Soviet-American relations onto a normal track," Gorbachev declared. "Surely, God on high has not refused to give us enough wisdom to find ways to bring an improvement in out relations."
The Soviet Union's chief goal in its talks with the United States, Gorbachev said, was to "reach an accord first and foremost" on three components of strategic armaments -- "offensive arms, medium-range arms and space weapons."
He repeated a warning that the U.S. space-based SDI antimissile program, even in its research stage, could threaten the arms talks in Geneva. "This project" he said, "will no doubt whip up the arms race in all areas, which means that the threat of war will increase."
"We are prepared to negotiate, but not about space weapons or about what specific types of space weapons could be deployed into space," he said. "Research is something we regard as part of the overall program for the development of space weapons."
He warned that the Soviet Union "is not going to be dozing" as the United States moves toward development of SDI, and "come what may, we will find an accurate response to any challenge."
While harshly counterattacking Reagan administration criticism of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev, asked his impressions of Reagan, said that "our attention certainly was drawn to certain positive elements" in past Reagan speeches.
He singled out declarations by Reagan in 1983 and 1984 "that war was inadmissible, that nuclear war was not winnable -- and of course we gave our attention to those statements."
While he had not had an opportunity to form a personal assessment of Reagan, Gorbachev said, as "a man elected to his high office by the American people . . . we are therefore prepared to do business with him and to treat him with the respect that is befitting him."
Gorbachev, at 54 the youngest man to become general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party since Joseph Stalin, ushered in a new generation of Soviet leaders when he came to power last March.
In his discussion of the Soviet economy, he acknowledged "difficulties . . . due to our own shortcomings and deficiencies," adding that "we have not yet learned proper managerial skills as is required by a modern economy."
He repeated his intention to strengthen centralization in strategic areas of the economy, to develop "a more efficient mechanism of management," to use "such tools as profit, pricing, credit and self-sufficiency of enterprises," and to achieve "greater discipline and order -- demanding more from everyone, from worker to minister."
He appeared to bristle in his answer to a question about the Soviet need for access to U.S. advanced technology.
"Those selling the idea of the U.S.S.R. allegedly being consumed with thirst for U.S. technology forget who they are dealing with and what the Soviet Union is today," he said. "How are we to understand the following inconsistency in the U.S. reasoning: to substantiate increased military spending, all they do in the U.S. is talk about the fantastic achievements of the U.S.S.R. in the field of technology. When, on the other hand, they need an excuse for prohibitive measures, they portray us as a backward country of yokels."
Asked about his own personal style of leadership, which has been more visible than that of many of his predecessors, with frequent mixing in public, Gorbachev responded that "it is not my invention," but rather that "it goes back to Lenin. He said on quite a few occasions that to know life you must live as the masses do."
Gorbachev occasionally indulged in banter about the American political scene. Asked about an article former president Richard M. Nixon has written for the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Gorbachev remarked, "It's interesting for me to hear what president Nixon is doing these days."
At another point, as he spoke of "Reagan's advisers to the right or to the left," he interrupted himself to observe, "If I am correct, he does not have any advisers on the left."