MOSCOW — President Reagan, in a speech read here on his behalf, stressed on Saturday his desire for a 50% cut in the number of strategic nuclear missiles in the U.S. and Soviet armories.
Ambassador Jack F. Matlock Jr., delivering the President's speech to the annual meeting of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, quoted Reagan as saying he also wanted to "quickly" eliminate intermediate-range nuclear weapons, most of which are based in Europe.
In the speech to about 2,000 doctors gathered here for four days of discussions on scientific and medical subjects bearing on nuclear war, the President said:
"I have never accepted that mankind must be confronted with an ever-rising number of nuclear weapons. Now is the time to cut the nuclear arsenals."
The President's remarks on arms reduction received sustained applause from the delegates of the 140,000-member, worldwide organization, which received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
But some in the audience whistled disapproval when the speech indirectly referred to the President's Strategic Defense Initiative, declaring that the United States wishes to rely on "defensive systems that threaten no one." Some delegates chanted "test ban now," which received applause from part of the audience.
"We want to move ahead on an agreement on intermediate-range missiles that would substantially reduce and we hope quickly eliminate that whole class of weapons," Reagan said. "We want to conclude an agreement for a mutual cut of strategic nuclear arsenals by 50% in a way that enhances stability. And we want to explore ways to establish a strategic balance on a new, more defense-oriented and stable basis."
However, Reagan seemed to want to reassure allies and others who believe a nuclear deterrent is necessary in the face of the Soviet Union's superiority in conventional military forces.
"To the extent we need to--and we do still need to--the U.S. and our allies will continue to rely on deterrence, including nuclear deterrence, to keep the peace," the President said. "That means we will need strong deterrent forces."
As for enforcing any accords with the Soviets, Reagan said, "We want verifiable agreements that will be respected fully by all parties. We want agreements that increase predictability, international stability and security at every stage, and pave the way for further steps to strengthen peace."