The decision by U.S. and Soviet leaders not to grapple extensively during the summit with the security questions raised by the unification of Germany leaves much to be done if a new treaty on conventional arms reductions is to be signed before the end of 1990, U.S. and Soviet officials said yesterday.

The officials acknowledged yesterday that although a new treaty reducing European conventional forces has not been officially linked with an accord on Germany, the two issues are inescapably intertwined in political terms.

Previously, the United States had rejected the Soviet contention that Moscow could not participate in any demilitarization of the continent unless Germany's future military capabilities have been satisfactorily limited. But the public and private remarks of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on this score evidently won some grudging U.S. acceptance.

"We're quite comfortable proceeding with . . . {a new treaty on European conventional forces} at its own timetable," national security adviser Brent Scowcroft said on Cable News Network. "But I think the Soviets, since {the treaty} would deal with the issue of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe, would like to link the two."

Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, a senior adviser to Gorbachev on arms matters who took part in many of Gorbachev's discussions with Bush last week, explained the Soviet position in an interview yesterday. "At this point, we do not link the Vienna talks with a solution of the German question because we do not want to interfere with the completion of the agreement," Akhromeyev said. "But once we do have a treaty prepared for signing, I personally cannot imagine how Gorbachev could sign the prepared treaty without a solution" to the German question.

Gorbachev said at a joint news conference with Bush that the conventional arms negotiations in Vienna could be slowed, if not halted, if the West imposed its own view that a unified German state must join the existing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). "Then we should go back and see where we are: What's happening to our security? What should we be doing with our armed forces? What should we do about Vienna?" he asked.

U.S. officials interpreted this allusion to a potential withdrawal of past Soviet commitments for sweeping new arms reductions as a sign that Gorbachev wants additional leverage in negotiations with the West.

Akhromeyev said he could not accept a Western view that the process of German reunification is "out of control" and beyond any influence by Soviet leaders distracted by immense domestic problems or undermined by defecting Warsaw Pact allies. He cited his nation's continued, post-war right to station troops in East Germany as another potent lever in the debate.

U.S. officials said the two sides may consequently be forced to settle simultaneously the issue of Germany's potential membership in the Western alliance, the future character of the alliance, the possibility of some constraints on German and allied Western troops, and the myriad details associated with a new arms accord between 23 nations. Gorbachev reiterated yesterday that he hopes to sign such an agreement at a summit involving the 35 participants in the Conference on Security and Cooperation before the end of the year.

Akhromeyev, reflecting comments by Gorbachev and other Soviet officials, said at one point that Moscow "could not abide" the integration of German military forces into the unified NATO military command -- an act that would essentially place them under U.S. control. He said this was unacceptable even as a short term solution while NATO was undergoing reform, citing a Russian proverb: "There is nothing as permanent as something that is considered to be temporary."

But Akhromeyev also said, "What we do need is a show of goodwill," hinting, along with other Soviet officials, that a compromise may be possible if Gorbachev can tell his domestic critics of a Western concession. Indicating some new Soviet flexibility, he said "one option" may be to eliminate the military component of NATO's command structure, and allow German membership in a Western alliance structured to consider "purely" political issues. Under such an arrangement, there would be "no need for {alliance} military doctrines -- they would disappear."

He said an alternative solution might be found in the proposal of West Germany's minority Social Democratic party, to establish a unified European military alliance with just five members: the United States, the Soviet Union, Germany, Britain and France. Military officers from each country would be assigned to work in a headquarters at a site to be determined later.

Asked if Bush demonstrated an appreciation of Gorbachev's concerns about a potential Russian backlash to Germany's membership in NATO, Akhromeyev said: "Bush has a position of his own. He tries to convince us that the U.S. position would be beneficial for the Soviet Union." Although this is a mistake, Akhromeyev said, the two sides laid the foundation at the summit for further work that can lead to accommodation.