GENEVA — U.S. arms negotiators today presented the Soviets with President Reagan's proposal for a phased elimination of all medium-range nuclear weapons within three years, but the Kremlin dismissed the plan as propaganda.
The U.S. proposal at the superpower arms control talks came in reply to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's sweeping statement Jan. 15 calling for the elimination of all nuclear arsenals by the year 2000. Reagan first mentioned the proposition in a weekend letter to Gorbachev.
"Judging by first press reports, the reply does not go farther than repeating the well-known U.S. non-constructive stand in this matter, which is of major importance to the destiny of the world," the official Soviet press agency Tass said.
The plan was presented at the Geneva talks at a meeting of all leading arms negotiators on both sides at the Soviet mission.
Gorbachev said a beginning could be made by getting rid of all medium-range weapons in Europe--without mentioning Soviet triple-warhead SS-20 missiles based in Asia.
The Soviet leader also demanded a freeze on British and French nuclear arsenals and a commitment by the United States not to provide new missiles to any other country.
Gorbachev did not link an interim agreement on intermediate nuclear forces to a scrapping of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars," anti-missile program.
But Gorbachev insists that the space-based defense program must be abandoned if there is to be progress on reducing strategic long-range nuclear weapons by 50%, an objective set at last November's summit between Gorbachev and Reagan.
Washington officials said the U.S. proposal insists that Soviet missiles in Asia be included in a phased elimination of all medium-range arms. It further rejects Gorbachev's two conditions on a British and French freeze and on the United States making new missiles available to its allies.