Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Thursday that negotiations with the East Bloc on short-range nuclear forces "should be resisted at this point" and urged NATO to pursue its weapons modernization program.

Cheney, at a news conference at the conclusion of a two-day session of NATO's Nuclear Planning Group, said the Soviets are continuing to modernize their short-range nuclear forces.He referred to a fact sheet released by NATO that said modernization of the old Soviet Frog system with the more advanced and highly accurate SS-21 missile was largely completed in Eastern Europe.

The Soviets are also said to be upgrading their Scud missiles to replace the longer-range SS-23 missiles scrapped under the 1987 U.S.-Soviet agreement to eliminate ground-based intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe.

Cheney said the idea of negotiating limits on short-range nuclear forces "should be resisted at this point because of greater consequence and greater concern are the efforts underway with respect to negotiating an agreement on conventional forces."