U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that Saudi Arabia is now actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with help from China, CNN reported.
The development could have significant ripple effects across the Middle East and complicate the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to curb the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the Saudis’ main regional rival, according to the report.
Saudi Arabia is known to have bought ballistic missiles from China in the past, but has never been able to build its own – until now, according to three sources familiar with the latest intelligence. Satellite images obtained by CNN also suggest that the Kingdom is currently manufacturing the weapons in at least one location.
U.S. officials from numerous agencies, including the White House National Security Council, have been informed in recent months of classified intelligence revealing multiple large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia, according to the report. two sources close to the latest assessments, according to the report.
The Biden administration now faces increasingly pressing questions about whether advancements in Saudi ballistic missiles could drastically change regional power dynamics and complicate efforts to expand the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran. to include restrictions on its own missile technology.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies and Tehran is unlikely to agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has started making its own, according to the report.