SYDNEY, JUNE 20 -- Secretary of State George P. Shultz today labeled as "entirely incorrect" and "ridiculous" the recent statements of Gen. Bernard W. Rogers, the departing military commander of NATO, criticizing the Reagan administration's seeming rush for an arms control agreement with the Soviet Union.
Shultz was reacting to remarks, published in a Washington Post interview this week, in which Rogers, who will hand over the alliance command June 26, accused the administration of pressuring Western Europe to put aside its reservations about a medium-range missile accord.
Rogers said the administration apparently is rushing an agreement, which could be signed at a fall summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, because the White House wants to restore Reagan's political credibility and his damaged leadership image.
Speaking to reporters aboard his plane en route here from Singapore, Shultz called Rogers "a general with a lot of experience" whose adverse views might affect congressional reaction to any eventual arms accord on the removal of U.S. and Soviet medium-range missiles from Europe. But Shultz also said Rogers was "way out of line" for speaking as "a general who's been in Europe for eight years commenting on the U.S. political scene."
At the end of his rather heated comments, Shultz added: "General Rogers can put that in his pipe and smoke it!"
"General Rogers may not like what has happened -- apparently he doesn't," Shultz said. But he denied putting "arm twisting" pressure on America's allies in Western Europe, saying, "That's a curious way to describe the intention -- and I might say, very much appreciated pattern -- of intense consultation."
Shultz told NATO foreign ministers on April 17 that the United States favored Gorbachev's "double zero" proposal to withdraw Soviet triple-warhead SS20 missiles, as well as shorter-range SS22s and SS23s. In exchange, the United States would cancel plans to deploy 572 Pershing II ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, and NATO would agree not to deploy any new missiles with a range of more than 300 miles.
At the time, Shultz told the NATO ministers that the Reagan administration wanted their views before accepting the proposal. The ministers endorsed the "double zero" proposal earlier this month.
Rogers, in the interview, said the NATO countries felt pressured to accept the proposal, since Shultz prefaced his remarks by saying that the United States already favored it.
Shultz today called that a normal process of consultation. "Our allies liked that," Shultz said. "They didn't resent that. They thought that was the right thing to do."
Shultz also noted that the Reagan administration first proposed the "zero-zero" option in 1981, a proposal limited to the SS20s and the Pershing IIs and Tomahawks. "If this is news to him, where has he been?" Shultz said.
Shultz said Senate leaders will have to evaluate any eventual arms accord on medium-range missiles on its own merits, adding, "The merits are very strong in our interests.
"The criticisms of the naysayers of President Reagan's original proposals were not that it was a bad proposal on its merits for the United States," Shultz said. "The criticism was that it was too good a proposal on its merits from the standpoint of the United States and so good a proposal that the Russians would never agree to it."