MOSCOW — Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev accused West European governments Wednesday of holding up a nuclear arms control agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Gorbachev charged that Washington and Moscow were within a "few steps" of agreement when unspecified West European governments began balking at a plan to withdraw medium-range missiles from Europe.
He made the remarks in an interview with the Italian Communist newspaper L'Unita, and they were printed in the Soviet party daily Pravda.
"Just several weeks ago," Gorbachev was quoted as saying, "it seemed that the rapid shift in the Soviet position toward the positions of the United States and its West European allies had brought the agreement within a few steps.
"It now turns out, however, that some West European governments have not yet decided whether they want the Soviet medium-range missiles scrapped if the U.S. ones are scrapped as well."
The Soviet leader indicated that he blamed West European governments--presumably mainly West Germany--for placing too many conditions on the arms control talks now going on in Geneva.
"We noticed," he said, "that some people are trying to forge an endless chain of more and more linkages. At first, they said the medium-range missiles might not be resolved without simultaneously destroying theater missiles, then they began throwing in tactical nuclear weapons, battlefield nuclear weapons and finally even conventional arms and armed forces.
"All these are serious matters, and together with our allies we have expressed our judgments on them, and we are prepared to discuss and solve them. But these problems may not, in our view, be used for stonewalling."
The Soviet news agency Tass reported Wednesday that Gorbachev called for a nuclear-free agreement for Asia in remarks at a dinner for Vietnam leader Nguyen Van Linh.
Far East Proposal
Gorbachev said the Soviet Union would be willing to give up its medium-range nuclear weapons in the Far East if the United States would remove its atomic weapons from ships and bases in the area.
He also proposed that an international conference be convened to create a similar nuclear-free zone in the Indian Ocean.
In the L'Unita interview, Gorbachev offered some personal revelations. In his youth, he said, he studied literature before shifting to law. Later, he took up economics.
"I have always held that my weakness is that I have always shown interest in many things in various fields," he said. "One might assent that people who concentrate on some specific field achieve much in life, but still people with a broad outlook are more to my liking."
Since he began his glasnost campaign to reform Soviet society, Gorbachev said he had little free time, and therefore hardly lived a normal life by Russian standards.
"Perhaps such a way of life cannot be described as quite normal," he said, "but it is dictated by the time, by a situation resembling revolutionary periods when one must give one's self entirely, regardless of everything."
Gorbachev said he disapproves of the cult of personality that traditionally surrounds Soviet supreme leaders.
"I disagree with what is sometimes said that the course toward the renewal of socialism is personally associated with the name of Gorbachev. If there were no Gorbachev, there would have been someone else."
The Soviet leader, who has been criticized by some Communist conservatives for his controversial reform program which has been aimed against corrupt and inefficient officials, insisted that he was not trying to turn the Soviet Union into a Western democracy.
"Things stand," he said, "quite the opposite.
"The point at issue is not a breakup of our political system, but fuller and more affective use of its potential."