A little while ago, Jeffrey put up a “good post”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1544/nnsas-harvey-at-new-america about John Harvey’s appearance at a New America Foundation event.
The post points out, correctly, that
bq. Harvey [Director of Policy Planning at NNSA] confirmed that the Moscow Treaty numbers are in fact premised on intelligence estimates of future foreign nuclear deployments.
Meaning, Chinese future nuclear weapons deployments. In other words, we need 1,700-2,200 nuclear weapons to dissuade the Chinese from attempting to achieve parity with the US arsenal.
p=. *SIOP =/= Arsenal Size*
Personally, I was most interested in a closely-related matter: Harvey’s assertion that decisions regarding the number of US nuclear forces are _not_ based on holding a certain number of targets at risk. In fact, according to my notes, Harvey said in response to a question from Daryl Kimball that holding said targets at risk “is a _relatively small_ driver” of the force size.
What, one might ask, are _large_ drivers? According to Harvey, they include dissuading competitors and providing extended deterrence to our allies. I don’t think he mentioned China by name, but I think it would make anyone’s short list.
_Soooooo_ how do these drivers translate into a number? Well, hard to say. In response to a question from Jeffrey, Harvey said that the process of determining the number necessary to assure our allies is a judgment, rather than a calculation.