CIA Director William H. Webster said yesterday he intends to retain Robert M. Gates as deputy director of the agency, though he will wait two to three weeks to make any other personnel decisions, taking time to review an internal report on the agency's involvement in the Iran-contra scandal.

Asked yesterday in an interview at The Washington Post whether Gates will keep his post, Webster said, "I certainly hope so. Nothing has been presented to me at the present time that would make me think other than that."

Gates, a career CIA official, was named to the No. 2 CIA post in early 1986 by William J. Casey. President Reagan nominated Gates to succeed Casey as director last February. But Gates withdrew his name after questions were raised during Senate confirmation hearings about his activities during the Iran-contra affair.

Webster spoke highly of Gates and said, "I think Bob and I see eye to eye on the major things." The director said any actions he might take regarding the other half dozen CIA officials involved in the Iran-contra affair should "be fair and not be precipitous."

The congressional Iran-contra report released last week disclosed new details about the involvement of agency personnel in secret military aid to the Nicaraguan contras at a time when it was barred by law.

The congressional report also disclosed that Gates and a handful of CIA officials received information about the possibility of diversion of funds from the Iran arms sales to the contras months before it was made public.

Key members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have pressed Webster to deal with the agency personnel who not only were involved in the Iran-contra affair but lied to the agency's inspector general about their actions and presented misleading and sometimes conflicting testimony about their actions to Congress.

Webster said that in his six months as head of the Central Intelligence Agency he has intentionally moved slowly in dealing with the aftermath of the Iran-contra affair.

"Those inside the agency and those outside should know that whatever I do was not done precipitously," he said. "I may be wrong, and people may disagree with the conclusions I reach. They will not be able to say he rushed in without knowing, that he just cowed to outside pressures, whether the press or the Hill."

Webster indicated that he will make a formal report to Congress on his actions, but it was not clear what report, if any, would be made public. The report Webster will rely on is being drafted by Russell Bruemmer, a Washington attorney who was a special assistant to Webster when the CIA director ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Of the Iran-contra affair, Webster said, "A lot of things have come out of this investigation that are healthy." He said solutions to the problems have largely been put in place through executive order, adding that he does not see a need for new legislation.

The congressional Iran-contra report recommended that Senate confirmation be required for the post of CIA inspector general. Though Webster said "there were clearly some problems in the overall inspection efforts" during the Iran-contra affair when some CIA officials "did not tell the truth," he said he will enhance the status and caliber of people in the office to ensure thorough internal policing.

"Lying is inexcusable," he said.

He said he opposes legislation introduced in the Senate and House that would mandate, without exception, 48-hour notification to Congress of the start of the most sensitive covert actions.

The CIA now does this, he said, but added that he could foresee a covert action involving danger to lives that would require withholding notification to the intelligence committees for a matter of days.

"I am still unpersuaded that Casey wanted an off-the-shelf, stand-alone method of ignoring all the laws and procedures," Webster said, referring to the congressional testimony of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North that Casey envisioned such an "off-the-books" covert-action capability outside the CIA.

Referring to reports that Casey undertook such unauthorized operations with Saudi Arabia, Webster said, "I don't know the answer to that. That's still a puzzle."

The Iran-contra report raised the possibility that Gates had been told as early as August 1986 of the possible diversion of Iranian arms sales profits to aid the contras. Richard Kerr, who had succeeded Gates as deputy for intelligence, told the congressional committees that he forwarded speculation about a diversion from another CIA official to Gates at the end of August.

But, according to the congressional report, "Gates told the CIA inspector general that he could not recall" being apprised of these speculations.

The report also cited Gates' 1986 testimony about the willingness of agency officials to avoid learning about the funding of the Nicaraguan contras. He said that during the period Congress had banned direct U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan contras, "agency people . . . from the director on down, actively shunned information. We didn't want to know how the contras were being funded . . . . We actively discouraged people from telling us things. We did not pursue lines of questioning."

The Iran-contra majority report said that "this turned upside down the CIA's mission to collect all intelligence relevant to national security."

Yesterday Webster said that Gates had been worried "in terms of dealing with the private {donors to the contras} . . . that too much involvement with them in order to find out any information about them might put {the CIA} too close and across legal ground."

"That's what I believe he meant," Webster said, interpreting Gates' testimony. "Knowing Bob Gates, I have a lot of confidence that he does not belong to a school of 'See No Evil.' "

A number of well-placed sources said recently that Webster has come to rely heavily on Gates, who runs day-to-day operations.

Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview this month, "Gates is as influential a No. 2 as there is in any agency in town."