Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) cleared the way for Senate confirmation of Maj. Gen. William F. Burns as director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency yesterday but vowed to continue pressing for arms-control reports that could complicate debate over the new U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms treaty.

Helms dropped objections to Burns' confirmation that he lodged Feb. 22 in order to force the Reagan administration to produce reports on Soviet compliance with arms agreements, which Helms contended would substantiate charges of "Soviet duplicity" and "flagrant violations."

As a result, the Senate is expected to act soon to confirm the nomination of Burns to the post, which has been filled on an acting basis since the resignation of Kenneth L. Adelman in December.

During a brief discussion on the Senate floor, Helms said he was now supporting Burns' confirmation because the administration has agreed to produce two of the reports over the next two weeks and has indicated "good faith" about delivery of the third set of findings.

But Helms vowed to continue pressing for the reports, insisting on receiving them before the Senate votes on the new treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) this spring.

While stopping short of threatening to block a treaty vote, he said he would object to action by the Senate until all the reports are available, expressing confidence they would justify his contention that the Soviets can not be trusted to comply with any treaties, including the INF agreement.

"I would strenuously object to the Senate moving on it {the INF Treaty} until we have this information," Helms told reporters after issuing a similar warning to colleagues on the Senate floor.

In an exchange of letters with Helms, White House national security adviser Colin L. Powell said the first two reports would be released next Tuesday and March 14 but contended that a joint U.S.-Soviet review of ABM compliance is not due until Oct. 1.

Helms argued that the ABM review was due last October and charged that the administration was "dragging {its} feet because we don't want to ruffle the feathers of the Soviet Union."

Helms said he understood it might take some time to set up the U.S-Soviet review meeting but indicated he expects the report before next October. "Everyone now is operating in good faith," he said.

Asked if he would move by a filibuster or other means to delay action on the INF Treaty if the report has not been delivered before the treaty comes to the Senate floor, possibly within a month, Helms said he did not "want to start a fight that I think can be avoided" but added that he is prepared to force the administration's hand if necessary.

As a shot across the bow, Helms gave the administration a warning of what it may face if it does not move quickly to produce all the treaty compliance reports. He introduced -- and then withdrew -- an amendment to a pending polygraph-control bill that would declare the United States to be in violation of the ABM Treaty because it had not produced reports on compliance, as the treaty requires at five-year intervals.

Helms noted that this would put him in rare agreement with some Democratic liberals, who have attempted to counter administration charges of Soviet treaty violations by suggesting that the United States has also fudged on its agreements.