MOSCOW — A top Soviet official said today the controversy over the U.S. weapons sale to Iran must not obstruct the search for a superpower pact on nuclear arms.
"I believe that the crisis which the U.S. Administration is undergoing should not affect the stability of the strategic relationship," Viktor P. Karpov, the top Kremlin arms negotiator, told reporters.
Karpov, who heads his country's team at the Geneva arms talks, said the Soviet leadership believes the issues of nuclear disarmament and of halting an arms race in space are "so significant and enormous" that the search for agreement must not stop.
Karpov strongly disassociated himself from remarks made last week by another prominent Soviet official, Georgi Arbatov, who suggested superpower negotiations might have to wait until after the next U.S. presidential election in 1988.
"Mr. Arbatov is totally free to present his own views," Karpov said at a news conference. "My own instructions . . . are to seek agreement with the United States within the entire range of competence of the U.S.-Soviet arms talks.
"We have a good and sound basis provided by Soviet proposals at Reykjavik. We are prepared to go on this basis today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow--preferably today."
Arbatov, director of the U.S.A. and Canada Institute and an adviser on foreign policy, made a biting personal attack on Reagan Friday. That was followed the next day by a similar attack by the official press agency Tass.
Policy Shift Seen
The attacks, which are rare, were taken as an indication that Soviet policy may have changed on continuing to seek arms reductions while Reagan is in office, particularly after the collapse of the Iceland superpower summit last month.
The summit ended when Reagan rejected a demand by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev that Washington restrict testing of its Strategic Defense Initiative, the missile-defense system popularly known as "Star Wars."
In Geneva today, the Soviet Union indicated that it will resume nuclear tests after Jan. 1 unless the United States joins a testing moratorium.
Andronik A. Petrosyants, chairman of the Soviet state atomic energy committee, told a news conference that Moscow's unilateral test moratorium, delared in August, 1985, remains in force only until the end of this year.