MOSCOW, JULY 28 -- Senior Soviet arms control officials today rejected any compromise effort to break a deadlock at the Geneva negotiations by insisting that the United States destroy 72 Pershing IA nuclear missile warheads stationed in West Germany as part of a superpower accord to eliminate theater nuclear missiles in Europe and Asia.
In an unusual joint interview, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh and Col. Gen. Nikolai Chervov took an unrelenting line in rejecting any possibility that an American pledge not to modernize the aging warheads could clear the way for a "global double-zero" agreement and a U.S.-Soviet summit in Washington later this year.
Following the burst of public optimism generated late last week by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's latest initiatives, their comments appeared to indicate that the Soviets have shifted to hard bargaining and possibly to brinkmanship over the final details of an agreement to eliminate medium- and shorter-range nuclear missiles.
"Non-modernization of these warheads cannot resolve this issue," said Bessmertnykh. "It is such a half-hearted measure that it would not be satisfactory."
The existing warheads, he added, "are not about to be scrapped" unilaterally in a few years, as some U.S. and West German officials have suggested in trying to define the shape of a compromise.
Chervov, a three-star general who is the Defense Ministry's senior arms control adviser, advanced specific, hard-edged formulations for the verification of an accord on theater missiles through intrusive on-site inspections on Soviet and U.S. territory.
In the most detailed public description yet given of the Soviet verification proposals made in Geneva negotiations, Chervov said that Soviet and U.S. inspectors would have to be able to visit each other's testing ranges, storage facilities and factories to make sure the agreement was being observed.
U.S. and Soviet officials are known to be divided over some measures to verify treaty compliance but western experts believe such difficulties will be eased by the total elimination of medium- and shorter-range missiles in Europe and Asia.
Chervov's firm line on this today, coupled with the rejection of any compromise on the Pershing IA issue, suggested that agreement to eliminate all U.S. and Soviet theater nuclear missiles with a range of more than 300 miles may yet be blocked, despite the evident political desire of President Reagan and Gorbachev to achieve it.
The tough tone adopted by the two Soviet officials on the final obstacles to the agreement also contrasted with their more conciliatory treatment of the possibilities for a broad agreement on principles for strategic and space weapons that Bessmertnykh said the Soviets would like to see emerge from a new Reagan-Gorbachev meeting.
He said that the Soviets had given Secretary of State George P. Shultz a draft of such an agreement last April. The only formal American response thus far has been that the idea "is under consideration," he added.
The Soviet draft of "key provisions" of the principles that would govern future strategic and space negotiations included a proposal that the two nations draw up "a list of devices that can be launched into space and those that should be prohibited," Chervov said.
The proposal given Shultz also covered what the general described as Soviet willingness "to accept any verification system" to monitor nuclear tests if agreement can be reached on sharply limiting the size and frequency of the tests. He specifically included a mention of the CORRTEX monitoring system favored by the United States.
The United States has rejected a moratorium on testing, but has in the past indicated a willingness to discuss intermediate limitations on experimental nuclear explosions.
The Soviets had previously emphasized their opposition to any military devices being launched into space and the need for a total elimination of nuclear testing.
The 90-minute interview, conducted at the Foreign Ministry, laid out in unusually extensive and clear detail the complex negotiating structure the Soviets have imposed on superpower nuclear negotiations since the failure of the Reykjavik summit last October.
Gorbachev appeared to give new impetus to the Geneva talks last week by agreeing to destroy all 441 SS20 nuclear missiles and about 130 shorter range SS22 and SS23 rockets in Europe and Asia, in return for U.S. agreement to eliminate its Pershing II and Tomahawk ground-launched cruise missiles, 348 of which are now stationed in Western Europe, and the 72 Pershing IAs.
By continually taking the offensive in making new offers since Reykjavik and expanding them when obstacles developed, Gorbachev appears to have positioned himself either to get the agreement he wants, or to be able to blame the Reagan administration for blocking an accord to remove an entire category of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.
The Soviet concern with world opinion in influencing the negotiations was evident in the remarks today by the two senior officials.
Addressing a point that Soviet officials had previously left vague, Bessmertnykh said that if the Pershing IA issue could not be resolved, the Soviet Union would be prepared to go back to a "single-zero" formula in Central Europe, in which shorter-range missiles would not be eliminated, the Soviets would retain 100 medium-range warheads in Asia and the United States would have the right to deploy 100 medium-range warheads on U.S. territory.
"But I think we have moved far enough to get the global double zero," he said. "It would be a disappointment for Europe and the world if we were to retreat from this very advanced proposal."
The Pershing IAs have a range of 460 miles. The United States maintains that the "missiles," meaning the rockets that carry the warheads and their launchers, actually belong to West Germany.
The Soviets maintain that they are not interested in the "missiles," which can stay in West Germany, but the U.S. warheads have to be physically destroyed along with the other weapons covered by the double-zero proposal.
The United States, which had to prod West Germany's coalition government into agreeing to the narrower proposal Gorbachev put to Shultz during their meeting in Moscow in April, is reluctant to create new political strains with Bonn by agreeing to give up the Pershing IA warheads.
Bessmertnykh asserted that the Soviet leadership had spent much of July making "an intense analysis of the Geneva negotiations" that led to Gorbachev's proposal.
This would explain a sudden halt in negotiating activity in Geneva and the failure to materialize of an expected visit to the United States this month by Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
Chervov asserted that one of the current sticking points at Geneva is an American refusal to permit on-site inspection at test ranges and storage facilities in the United States.
"We know there are numerous Pershing IIs stored on U.S. territory, and 108 Pershing IAs that were withdrawn from Europe are stored somewhere on U.S. territory . . . . We insist on verification on U.S. bases where the presence of such missiles is possible. We cannot accept the premise that only the launch site is to be inspected, with the entire territory around the launch site off limits," Chervov said.
Turning to the softer formulations for future negotiations rather than the hard bargaining the Soviets are conducting on the final details of the theater missile accord, Chervov said there had been "an evolution" in Soviet thinking about Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative "on the question of research . . . . We propose that research has to take place within facilities on earth -- at fixed laboratories, at permitted test ranges, at test facilities. But weapons should not appear in space," he said.
This view, if formally proposed, would significantly expand the official Soviet version of where research on defensive space systems would be permitted.
In describing shifts on nuclear testing, Chervov said that Moscow has proposed that the two superpowers exchange tests of calibration systems on each other's territories.