Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci told a top-level Soviet military class Monday he has difficulty reconciling Kremlin claims of a defensive strategy with its excessive military spending and offensive weapons stocks.

On the first day of a visit expected to offer a close-up view of some Soviet bases and hardware, Carlucci and his host, Defense Minister Dmitri T. Yazov, both called for straight talk on the issues that divide their nations.Speaking at Moscow's Voroshilov military academy, Carlucci said questions remain "by and large open" on the sincerity of Soviet claims to be rethinking defense strategy.

"We have difficulty in reconciling a defensive doctrine with what we see in Soviet force structure and operational strategy as an emphasis on the offensive," he told the academy class.

"We also have difficulty reconciling the USSR's pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons with your continuing emphasis on heavy ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) such as the SS-18," Carlucci said.

He said he found Yazov and other senior Kremlin military men "articulate and willing" but deemed the signs of actual change in the system "ambiguous."

Carlucci said the Strategic Defense Initiative would remain part of the U.S. military plan as long as Washington sees on the Soviet side "a capability more compatible with a military doctrine that emphasizes pre-emptive nuclear strikes."

At the opening of his talks with Yazov, Carlucci called for "talk in direct terms" about the superpowers' divergent views on defense.

"Yes, we are soldiers," Yazov agreed, with a decisive nod of the head. The first session between the superpower defense chiefs included Soviet Chief of Staff Marshal Sergei F. Akhromeyev, who last month completed a tour of U.S. defense installations that set the tone of openness being accorded to Carlucci here.

The U.S. defense chief said he was "totally satisfied" with the access he will be given to military bases and equipment during his four-day visit.

At the beginning of July, Akhromeyev saw flight operations on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, the inside of a B-1 bomber and toured a Minuteman missile training facility.

In return, U.S. officials let it be known that they wanted to see the Soviets' top-secret Blackjack bomber and visit Soviet ships at sea.

The Moscow meetings will be the third session between the defense chiefs of the superpowers. Carlucci and Yazov first met in Berne, Switzerland, in March, and they also held talks during the Moscow summit in late May.

Carlucci is accompanied by Assistant Secretary of Defense Ron Lehman and representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department.

Soviet media have focused much attention on Carlucci's visit, promising a close-up look at the Kremlin's military installations and declaring the exchange a good chance to ease tensions between the superpowers.

Carlucci is to go Tuesday to the Taman base outside the capital and to the Kubinka airfield _ both in closed zones normally off-limits to foreigners.

On Wednesday, the delegation flies to the Crimean peninsula for the American side's first official look at the Black Sea fleet headquartered in Sevastopol.

He will also visit Soviet President Andrei Gromyko, 78, in Yalta in the Crimea, where the historic meeting between Josef Stalin, President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1945 helped shape the fate of postwar

Carlucci leaves the Soviet Union on Thursday for Turkey.