Arms Pacts Stall on Link to SDI, U.S. Envoy Says

Times Staff Writer

Departing U.S. Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman said Wednesday that some Soviet-American arms control agreements are “practically within reach” if the Kremlin would drop its demand for a package deal that would include restrictions on the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative.

Hartman also urged Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to visit the United States this year, even if there is no accord on reduction of nuclear weapons.

In an unusual on-the-record news conference, the retiring American diplomat praised the Soviet leadership for improvements in some aspects of human rights but said there has been no progress in other areas.

New Ideas Possible


Gorbachev may unveil some new arms control ideas Monday when he speaks before 850 foreign delegates to a Moscow forum on a nuclear-free world, Hartman said.

Some headway has been made at the Geneva arms talks, he said, by defining differences between the two sides.

But Hartman, who was one of President Reagan’s team of advisers at the summit meeting with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, last October, said it is possible to make agreements in two major areas--strategic missiles and medium-range missiles.

“There are elements of this that are practically within reach today, and we should go for them,” he said.


He mentioned a 50% cut in Soviet and American strategic missiles and elimination of medium-range missiles by both sides in Europe, with each side allowed to keep 100 of the latter on its own territory.

“They would be good agreements,” Hartman said, but he recalled that Gorbachev has linked agreements on those two areas to strict curbs of research on Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the space-based missile defense system known as “Star Wars.”

“They have not broken that linkage,” he said, although he added that Soviet scientists have shown greater flexibility in discussing ways to curtail SDI research without stopping the program entirely.

Hartman, a career Foreign Service officer, resigned his post after 5 1/2 years in Moscow to return to private life. Reagan has nominated Jack F. Matlock Jr., a member of the National Security Council staff, to replace him.


In a farewell meeting with American reporters, Hartman said he favors higher-level Soviet-American meetings if there is progress at the Geneva arms talks.

Visit ‘Long Overdue’

“With or without progress,” he added, “a visit (by Gorbachev) to the United States is long overdue. No Soviet leader has been to the United States since (President Leonid I.) Brezhnev’s trip there (in 1973).

“A visit to our country and a visit around our country would be worthwhile,” Hartman added.


Gorbachev agreed to visit the United States in 1986, and Reagan said he would come to the Soviet Union in 1987, but Gorbachev decided against an American trip, saying there were insufficient prospects of an arms control accord.

Hartman said he has told Soviet officials that it would be better to reach an agreement on arms control this year so that it can be ratified by the U.S. Senate before presidential election maneuvering becomes intense in 1988.

‘Would Sail Through’

“I am absolutely convinced that any agreement the President signs would sail through the Senate (in 1987),” he added.


On other topics, Hartman:

--Welcomed the Soviet government’s recent release of 140 political prisoners as “a step in the right direction, no doubt about it.”

--Reported that about half the cases on the U.S. Embassy’s list of divided families have been solved by the Soviets’ granting of exit visas to Soviet citizens with relatives in the United States. However, in the case of Soviet citizens married to Americans--those known as divided spouses--there are still “12 hard cases” that show little movement.

--Agreed with observations that Gorbachev is having trouble in his campaign to revive the Soviet economy and to make it work more efficiently. “This is not an easy society to shape in any way,” Hartman said.


--Predicted that Gorbachev’s proposed changes will founder unless the Soviet Union confronts the reality of Josef Stalin’s wrongdoing in the 1920s and 1930s. “It’s something deep and hidden--every family was touched by it,” he said. “Until it’s faced, there will be a false reality that will make it difficult to achieve any reform.”

--Judged the Soviet Union a “tremendous success” for building a powerful military machine and making achievements in space flight but said the country has “failed to bring greater well-being to the mass of the people.”