MANCHESTER, N.H., DEC. 9 -- Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) tonight sharply denied suggestions that he is "waffling" on whether he supports the new arms control treaty, but said he is "not quite" ready to say he would vote for it.

Answering questions at a campaign stop here, the GOP presidential candidate predicted the treaty will be ratified "fairly easily" by the Senate, and said he hopes a majority of Republican senators will support it.

But when asked directly whether he is ready to vote for ratification, Dole replied "Not quite."

For one thing, Dole explained, "I've got a question about our allies: Do they really support it?" In addition, Dole said he is still uncertain about the strength of the treaty's verification provisions.

Dole's remarks in New Hampshire last night came after a day in which he made a series of statements that appeared to be mostly in favor of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed at the White House Tuesday, but without embracing it outright.

His stance has left him as the only one not against but not quite for the treaty among Republican presidential candidates. Dole's toughest competitor, Vice President Bush, has endorsed the treaty and is making it the focal point of his campaign this month. The four so-called "second-tier" GOP contenders all oppose the agreement.

"I read somewhere that Bob Dole is 'waffling' on this treaty," Dole observed in acerbic tones last night. "I've heard that because the polls show 70 percent support for it, I should just say that settles the matter. But that's not leadership."

Leadership, Dole went on, involves "getting the facts, doing the research. so you can bring others along with you where you're going." He said that taking time and raising questions before announcing his position, would give him a better chance to get other Republicans to vote with him.

In the past week, Dole had debated about where he would spend this evening. In Washington, he was invited to Mikhail Gorbachev's state dinner at the Soviet Embassy. In Manchester, he was invited to a meeting of the New Hampshire Contractors' Association at a Holiday Inn. In the end, he chose New Hampshire, quipping that "Gorbachev doesn't get to vote in the primary."

In recent days, Dole has edged toward outright support of the arms treaty, but consistently stops short of a commitment to vote for it. He began to come under fire for his noncommittal stance after last week's televised debate among presidential candidates of both parties.

"I'm happy the president is signing it," Dole said during the debate. "I applaud him for it, but I think George Bush, who is the president of the Senate from time to time, would agree that those in the Senate ought to have the right to look at it, we ought to study it.

"We ought to know precisely what it means and we ought to be certain it can be verified . . . I've never let the president down yet, but I have the right to read and study and have my experts take a look at this very important treaty."

Dole stuck to this position, repeatedly referring to the Senate's role in treaty ratification and the possibility that "reservations" will be adopted during ratification. In a speech earlier this week, he praised President Reagan and called the treaty "a watershed accomplishment," but urged that expectations for the Washington summit should be held in check.

In a television interview Tuesday, Dole stopped just short of pledging to fight for Senate ratification of the treaty.

"We want to get it done," he said. "What I want to see is a heavy Republican vote so we need to go through the process, have the hearing, get it out on the floor, hopefully have it done by April."

After he and other congressional leaders met with Gorbachev yesterday, Dole said Gorbachev indicated there would be strong Soviet objections to any Senate amendments to the treaty, which would require renegotiation of the terms.

"But I don't see any amendment that's going to require renegotiation," Dole added.

But during the same interview, Dole repeated his unique position among the presidential contenders.

"I've indicated from the start that I support {the treaty} in principle, I'm for arms reduction, but it's just a different role," he said. "I don't see waffling. I see it {as} taking a stand as we must take in the Senate . . . . There is a process we have to go through." Staff writer Ed Walsh contributed to this report.