MOSCOW — Mikhail S. Gorbachev told his people today that U.S.-Soviet relations have improved, but it is still too early to talk about a fundamental change.
He told Soviet television viewers that differences over the U.S. "Star Wars" program for developing a space-based missile defense remain among the issues that could halt further improvements in the superpower relationship.
The Communist Party chief addressed Soviet citizens on the results of his trip last week to Washington, where he and President Reagan signed an agreement eliminating U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
Gorbachev spoke for 20 minutes at the beginning of the nightly news program Vremya.
"If one is firmly based on the facts and is not given to exaggeration, it is yet early to speak about a fundamental improvement of Soviet-American relations," Gorbachev said.
But he added that in Washington, his talks with Reagan and other American political leaders were "different, more constructive than before."
Gorbachev said differences over "Star Wars," formally called the Strategic Defense Initiative, still could halt progress in U.S.-Soviet relations.
During the Washington summit and the period leading up to it, the Soviets had toned down their sharp criticism of "Star Wars."
Gorbachev and Reagan have pledged to work for a 50% cut in their long-range nuclear arsenals, but the Soviets have made that agreement contingent on limits on testing and deployment of "Star Wars," which the Soviets claim is banned under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Reagan said Friday that the issue would not stand in the way of agreement to cut long-range, or strategic, nuclear arsenals.
The Soviet leader said unspecified circles in the United States and Western Europe are trying to spoil the chance to improve relations.
"Some people are even trying to claim that the talks in Washington have settled the differences on such an issue as SDI, and under this pretext call for accelerating that program. I will frankly say that these are dangerous tendencies, and they shall not be underestimated," Gorbachev said.