WASHINGTON — President Reagan, on the eve of a meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, today directed U.S. negotiators to present a new arms treaty in Geneva and sharply criticized treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.
Reagan said the pact, being offered today, contains the toughest-ever protection against cheating.
The new proposal outlines steps for the elimination of U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear missiles and launchers within three years and shorter-range missiles within one year. However, it does not specify the pace of destroying the weapons within those time frames--a matter still not resolved by the superpowers.
"I have always made clear my firm belief that not having a treaty is better than having one which cannot be effectively verified," Reagan said in a statement.
"Accordingly, we are proposing the most stringent verification regime of any arms control agreement in history," Reagan said.
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that previous U.S. treaties did not cover elimination of shorter-range missiles, and that the new pact outlines that subject for the first time.
Meanwhile, in a message to an American Jewish group, Reagan said he will press Shevardnadze for "major improvements in the plight of Soviet Jews" and for full freedom of emigration.
Reagan said the Soviet leadership has recently taken "positive steps" in the sphere of human rights. He cited the release of some political prisoners and an increase in emigration of Jews and other minorities.
"We applaud these moves," he said in his message to the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.
But, Reagan said, "they coexist with ominous indicators of possible future tightening on emigration and a growth of anti-Semitism in some Soviet quarters."
He said "political pressure" must be maintained on Moscow.
Meanwhile, Fritz Ermath, head of the Soviet desk at the National Security Council, told the group that he is "apprehensive" about the fate of Soviet Jews.
Ermath called the step-up in emigration "a transparent and manipulative policy" that could be reversed. In the meantime, the White House official said, Jews could become victims of "scapegoating" during a period of economic difficulty.
In fact, Ermath said, "there is a rising trend of popular anti-Semitism" in the Soviet Union.
The White House also announced that a signing ceremony will be held at noon Tuesday in the Rose Garden on an agreement to establish "nuclear risk reduction centers" in Washington and Moscow to curb the possibility of accidental war.
The pact, the culmination of a four-year effort, will be signed by Shevardnadze and Secretary of State George P. Shultz, with Reagan as a witness.
In his statement on medium- and shorter-range missiles, Reagan said, "difficult issues remain to be resolved, including verification." He said the Soviets have said they agree in principle with a number of the U.S. verification requirements "but have yet to provide some key details."
"It is up to the Soviet Union now to demonstrate whether it shares our determination to conclude a treaty eliminating all U.S. and Soviet INF (intermediate range nuclear forces) missiles," he added.
Shevardnadze arrives, Page 4.