Saudi Arabia Missiles: China Helping Saudi Arabia Build Ballistic Missiles
Saudi Arabia Missiles: China Helping Saudi Arabia Build Ballistic Missiles

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — The first ‘unambiguous evidence’ that Saudi Arabia is building its own ballistic missiles with the help of China has emerged through satellite images, according to CNN, citing the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

The images show a facility operating a 'burn pit' to dispose of solid propellant left over from the production of ballistic missiles.

Casting rocket motors results in leftover propellant, which is an explosive hazard, so burn pits are an indication a facility is actively casting solid rocket motors.

CNN reports that the transfer of such sensitive technology by China could have ripple effects across the Middle East, particularly as the Biden administration attempts to expand the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran to include restraints on its own missile technology.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance for decades, and in the context of that multifaceted dispute — where Saudi Arabia has made clear that it sees the conflict in Yemen as the extension of its struggle with the Islamic Republic — it is considered unlikely Tehran would agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has indeed started manufacturing its own.

Additionally, the Middle East Eye suggests that any U.S. response to the weapons technology being developed could be complicated by its difficult relationship with China, and the fact that the U.S. Senate itself backed a $650 million missile sale to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, used to arm fighter jets during the ongoing war in Yemen.