MOSCOW — Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev opened a public relations offensive today, sending an arms control message to governments around the world and warning that an extension of his unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing depends on Washington.
"The message explains the essence of the latest Soviet disarmament proposals," official Moscow radio said. "The Soviet Union attaches great importance to them.
"The U.S.S.R. calls for stopping the arms race as soon as possible, the message says. The development of world events becomes increasingly dangerous and not a moment should be lost," Moscow radio reported.
Statement to Scientists
Word that Soviet embassies were relaying the Gorbachev message followed a statement by the Soviet leader Monday to an international group of scientists opposed to nuclear weapons that appeared to broaden the grounds for an extension.
"The Soviet government will take a decision, and it will be conveyed to you," Gorbachev said in the statement released today. "But frankly speaking, what it will be like depends to a large extent on whether the United States of America is going at long last to set about disarmament."
Although a Foreign Ministry briefing afterward did not clarify exactly what Gorbachev meant, the Soviet leader's statement appeared to be a change from the previous Kremlin stand that an extension depends on Washington joining a test moratorium.
U.S. Hasn't Joined
Washington has refused to join, pointing both to problems of monitoring compliance and plans to update American nuclear weapons.
The anti-nuclear scientists from 35 nations handed Gorbachev a declaration from their three-day meeting calling on both superpowers to ban nuclear tests. The Soviet moratorium expires Aug. 6.