The two chief U.S. negotiators of the SALT I and II arms-control agreements yesterday urged President Reagan to use the forthcoming summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to achieve a "major breakthrough" like that achieved by then-President Gerald R. Ford and Leonid Brezhnev in 1974.
At a news conference, Gerard Smith and Paul Warnke presented a statement signed by 22 other national security experts and 12 national organizations calling upon the president "to break the deadlock" in arms-control talks at Geneva, which resume next week, and ease tensions between the two superpowers.
The conference was arranged by the public interest group Common Cause at what was described by its president, Fred M. Wertheimer, as the start of a national campaign to pressure the White House to seek substantive accords at the Nov. 19-20 summit meeting in Geneva.
The statement listed seven steps the two leaders might take and said agreement on one or more would make "an important contribution" toward lessening risk of nuclear war and reducing tensions.
Warnke, chief negotiator of the unratified 1979 SALT II accords, said he was concerned about White House suggestions that little of substance should be expected from the summit, an attitude he called "basically a triumph of low expectations."
"Our feeling is that the president can do better, that he should do better," he said. "This can be much more than just a get-acquainted session. Whether by luck, inadvertence or crafty design, there is now an opportunity, we feel, for a major breakthrough."
Warnke argued that the precedent Reagan should consider is the summit in Vladivostok, where Ford and Brezhnev broke a two-year deadlock in negotiations by agreeing to the basic principles of nuclear parity and arms ceilings that provided the foundation for the SALT II agreement reached five years later. Although never ratified by the Senate, the treaty has been observed by both superpowers.
In a related event, Reagan, meeting with his negotiators before their return to the Geneva arms talks, called upon the Soviets to offer concrete proposals to "get the talks moving." Reagan said arms control would be "one of the important parts" of the agenda for the summit with Gorbachev.
Smith, chief negotiator of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, said the "most important priority" now is to preserve the progress the two superpowers had already made in past arms-control agreements. He emphasized the need for an agreement at the November summit on at least the first two of the seven proposals he and Warnke presented.
Those proposals call for a reaffirmation of the present policy of not undercutting the 1979 SALT II accords, and a new commitment to uphold and strengthen the ABM Treaty. Other suggested steps include a moratorium on testing antisatellite weapons and a temporary halt of nuclear testing pending agreement on a comprehensive test ban.
Additional proposals are for a U.S.-Soviet agreement to bar countermeasures preventing the gathering of telemetry data on missile tests, another agreement to halt deployment of new multiple-warhead, long-range missiles, and a third agreement on an interim strategic arms accord.
Among those signing the statement were William L. Colby, former Central Intelligence Agency director; Cyrus R. Vance, former secretary of state; Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame University; Donald M. Fraser, mayor of Minneapolis; John Kenneth Galbraith, former U.S. ambassador to India; Morton Halperin, former deputy assistant secretary of defense; Stanley Resor, former secretary of the army, and Raymond Garthoff and Lawrence Weiler, both members of the SALT I delegation.