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Congressional officials said they were told by the Obama administration that it “got stuck” with a deal made by the Bush administration to close the monitoring facility at Votkinsk. They also said the Bush administration did not want to extend START at all.

Paula A. DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation in the Bush administration, said she sent the Russians a post-START proposal in November 2008, but it was not a negotiated agreement.

She confirmed that it did not include continuing the Votkinsk mission, but attributed that to the Bush team’s decision “not to limit delivery vehicles,” so it did not need to count every missile Russia produced. “We didn’t need the entire verification regime from START,” she said.

In contrast, the Obama team “accepted the START approach to limit both warheads and missiles,” so it made sense for them to keep Votkinsk, she said.

“There was nothing in our proposal that precluded the Obama administration from adding Votkinsk or any other verification measure, had they decided to take that approach,” Ms. DeSutter said.

However, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the Obama team could not have gone back to renegotiate last year’s accord.

Obama administration officials said they take Moscow’s missile program seriously, and they are negotiating other verification measures to replace the permanent U.S. presence at Votkinsk. They declined to be more specific.

Mr. Kimball said that other ways to find out how many missiles Russia produces include regular inspections, data exchanges and intelligence gathering, such as tracking missile test flights.

“How significant [the loss of Votkinsk] is depends on what other monitoring mechanisms will be worked out,” he said.

Some Republican members of Congress, however, have warned of major negative consequences, saying that nothing can replace everyday on-site monitoring, and that the administration should have sought to extend it under a new agreement.

U.S. officials are trying to complete a “bridging” agreement in Geneva this week, so some verification measures can remain in effect until a START replacement is finalized. The Votkinsk monitoring team, however, will leave, officials said.

“When Votkinsk goes away, Russia could deploy hundreds of missiles,” said one senior Republican Senate aide. “Russia is a big country with many satellites passing overhead,” so it will not be easy to count missiles based on test flights. “We are worried about what Russia will do that we are not going to know.”

Another Republican aide said the “whole point of arms control” was to allow the United States to learn more about Russia’s force strength than it could by just estimating it.

“We were radically bad about estimating, but we became better at understanding our adversary” after START and other treaties, he said. “You can’t count mobile missiles from space.”

The Obama administration points out that the two countries are no longer enemies and that it has gone out of its way to improve relations with Russia. “The nature of our relationship has changed, and we have a pretty good idea about where Russia’s missile program is headed,” one U.S. official said.

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