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Former Gov. Scott M. Matheson has withdrawn his name from consideration as the nation's "nuclear-waste negotiator," at least for the time being.

"I was very interested in that position when my name came up in the first part of the year, but the appointment process didn't move forward rapidly," he said Tuesday.

Because of the delays, he said, the negotiator likely would be appointed in the middle of the presidential campaign with only three months remaining in President Reagan's term.

"That did not appear to be the proper way for a negotiator to begin his or her assignment. I honestly believe the new president should make the appointment and support the negotiator," said Matheson.

The negotiator will attempt to find a state or Indian tribe willing to accept a repository for high-level radioactive waste in return for compensation from the federal government.

This is an alternative to the established site-selection process that is focusing on Yucca Mountain, Nev. as the most promising location for the waste dump.