President Reagan, displaying growing impatience with jockeying over a date for the next superpower summit, warned Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday that if he wants Reagan to come to Moscow in 1987, he must complete arrangements to come to the United States this year.
White House officials said a Gorbachev visit is still likely. But Reagan told reporters at a breakfast meeting, "If it does slip through our fingers, I've got news for them. There won't be an '87 summit in Moscow."
The Soviets thus far have balked at U.S. suggestions that Gorbachev come to this country in June, and have suggested that another summit should produce concrete agreement on arms control. In recent weeks the Soviets have refused to say what an acceptable summit date would be, according to U.S. officials.
In a related development, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard N. Perle disclosed yesterday that the Soviet Union made informal approaches to U.S. diplomats "several days ago" about on-site monitoring of underground nuclear tests.
Perle noted "some faint diplomatic signals that maybe the Soviets would consider some improved verification arrangement on the [unratified 1974] threshold test ban."
Gorbachev has said his priorities for another summit are progress toward an agreement in nuclear testing and reduction of intermediate-range missiles.
Also yesterday, Reagan intensified rhetorical shadow-boxing over which side has been dragging its feet at the Geneva arms talks. "We were the only ones playing," he said.
Reagan said the Soviets had not responded to his proposal in Geneva Nov. 1 on reducing strategic weapons, despite Gorbachev's initiative Jan. 15 setting out a timetable for elimination of all nuclear weapons by the end of the century.
Last week, in his speech before the 27th Communist Party congress, Gorbachev said it was "hard to detect any serious preparedness of the U.S. administration to get down to the cardinal problems involved in eliminating the nuclear threat."
Reagan and Gorbachev agreed in Geneva last November to exchange summit visits, with Gorbachev coming here this year and Reagan going to Moscow in 1987. Reagan proposed a Gorbachev visit in June, but Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin said that was too early for progress in arms control and informally suggested September.
Reagan rejected September and said yesterday it "was never made as a formal proposal" by Moscow. "We're still sticking to the early summer," he said, because of his plans to campaign in the fall.
The president told reporters that a September meeting would be "kind of complicated and heavy-duty for us." He said the Soviets have not given a "formal answer one way or the other."
A White House official said Gorbachev is expected to respond formally when the party congress ends this week. U.S. officials have been insisting that the Soviets not attempt to link the timing of the summit to progress at Geneva.
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said yesterday that Reagan wants the next summit in Washington and that, "if it's not held in '86, it will be held in '87, perhaps."
Perle, one of the administration's leading critics of Soviet policy, said Gorbachev "had a lot of nerve" to hint that he would not participate in a summit this year "unless the president made concessions" on arms control. Perle said he believes that the Soviet leader is engaged in presummit political maneuvering.
In bringing up the nuclear testing issue, Perle appeared to toughen the U.S. position, saying the administration's goal is having the "right" to monitor all Soviet tests, rather than just a few to help in calibrating equipment outside the Soviet Union.
In 1982, the United States proposed an exchange of on-site monitoring of nuclear tests as a step that would lead to U.S. ratification of the treaty, which limits each side to tests of 150 kilotons or less. The Soviets have refused to discuss the matter until after U.S. ratification of the treaty.
Perle said the Soviet hints were promising but charged that House Democrats may have torpedoed the initiative with passage of a joint resolution asking the president to seek ratification of the treaty without new monitoring.
Perle did not mention that a similar resolution has passed the Republican-controlled Senate.