Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov has pledged Moscow will answer anydeployment of American MX missiles with equivalent rockets of its own - while reaffirming the Kremlin would still prefer ''honest'' arms-limitation accords with the United States.

Western diplomats said he seemed to be serving notice Moscow will answer the MX with the one new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system allowed each side in the unratified SALT II treaty of 1979. The diplomats maintained Soviet officials had already privately informed Washington of having tested such a missile.

Tough in substance, the Ustinov remarks remained generally consistent in tone with a post-Brezhnev tempering of extremes in superpower rhetoric.

And while Marshal Ustinov repeated recent Soviet charges that the Americans' planned construction of new missile silos for the MX violates SALT II, he stopped short of suggesting Moscow might abandon adherence to the treaty.

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