CNN reports: US intelligence has revealed that Ben Salman’s country has started producing ballistic missiles with the help of China. The revelation reduces the chances of persuading Iran to halt its ballistic missile program as part of an extension of the nuclear deal
CNN notes that the fact that Saudi Arabia has previously purchased ballistic missiles from China is a known fact, but adds that so far it has not been able to produce such missiles itself. The network’s report relies on three updated sources in the intelligence information, and it also publishes satellite images implying that Saudi Arabia produces the missiles at at least one site.
Two sources told CNN that executives at a variety of U.S. security agencies have been updated in recent months on classified information about a variety of large transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia. “The Biden administration must now address increasingly pressing questions about whether Saudi Arabia’s progress in the field of ballistic missiles could dramatically change regional dynamics and complicate efforts to expand its nuclear deal with Iran to include a restraint of its missile technology – a goal that the US, Europe “Israel and the Gulf states are striving for it,” the network said in a report.
CNN stresses that given that Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter rivals, it is unlikely that Tehran would agree to cease ballistic missile production if Saudi Arabia began producing such on its own. According to the network, satellite imagery it received from Planet, and which was examined by experts, indicates that Saudi Arabia produces ballistic missiles at a site it has previously built with Chinese aid. The photos were taken between October 26 and November 9, and they document burning operations at a facility near Davidmi in Saudi Arabia. According to experts, the facility appears to have a “fire pit” in which solid fuel used to make the missiles is disposed of.
The American network emphasizes that not much is known yet about the nature of the ballistic missiles that Saudi Arabia is developing on the site, including their range.
Meanwhile, Iran and the superpowers announced at noon that negotiations between them to return to the 2015 nuclear deal will resume this coming Monday, even though Christmas is in full swing. “It is not uncommon for serious business talks to take place between Christmas and the beginning of the new year, but in this specific case it is a sign that all parties to the negotiations do not want to waste time and strive to revive the nuclear deal as soon as possible,” Russian messenger Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted.