Saudi Arabia began building its own missiles, with China’s support at a top-secret base. This was revealed by satellite images and US intelligence. 

Although it had previously bought ballistic missiles made by China, this is the Gulf’s first attempt to make its own weapon class. 

This development could threaten the balance between power and Iran in the Middle East Cold War. It also may derail talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement with the US. 

New satellite images dated between October 26 and November 6, 2021 show a base capable of building ballistic missiles near Dawadmi in central Saudi Arabia.  

CNN reviewed these pictures. Sources familiar with current intelligence described the images as the first unambiguous proof’ that Saudi Arabia can produce missiles.  

Although it was unclear how Saudi Arabia obtained sensitive missile technology, the report stated that senior US officials were briefed about intelligence showing China shared the information.

Satellite images have revealed that Saudi Arabia has started building its own ballistic missiles with China's help at a top secret base

Satellite imagery has revealed that Saudi Arabia is building its own missiles using China’s assistance at a top-secret base

The Dawadmi site, in central Saudi Arabia, which was built with Chinese help, features a 'burn pit' for the disposal of solid-propellant used in the manufacture of ballistic missiles

Dawadmi, a site in central Saudi Arabia that was constructed with Chinese assistance, has a “burn pit” for disposing of solid-propellant used to manufacture ballistic missiles.

Saudi Arabia's development of ballistic missiles (pictured, in Iran in January 15) is likely to threaten the balance of power in the Middle East cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and could derail negotiations to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with the US

Saudi Arabia’s recent development of ballistic weapons (pictured in Iran, January 15th) will likely threaten the balance in power in the Middle East Cold War between Saudi Arabian and Iranian. It could also derail efforts to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

Experts who reviewed the images, taken by commercial imaging firm Planet, said the Dawadmi site was consistent with a missile manufacturing plant. 

This site was constructed with Chinese assistance and features a “burn pit” for solid-propellant that was used in making ballistic missiles.

Jeffrey Lewis (weapons expert, professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies), who reviewed images for CNN described this find as “a key piece of evidence” to show that the facility was involved in producing ballistic missiles.  

Rocket motors can be contaminated with leftover propellant. This is an explosive danger.  Some solid-propellant missile factories have fire pits that allow for the burning of leftover propellant. 

He said that ‘burn operations’ are a sign that the facility has been actively casting solid rocket engine motors.  

Sources familiar with security briefings recently revealed that US intelligence indicates China has sent numerous mass transfers sensitive information to Saudi Arabia. 

It was not immediately clear exactly how Saudi Arabia gained access to sensitive ballistic missile technology but the report said senior US officials had been briefed on intelligence showing China had shared the information (pictured, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman)

It was not immediately clear exactly how Saudi Arabia gained access to sensitive ballistic missile technology but the report said senior US officials had been briefed on intelligence showing China had shared the information (pictured, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman)

CNN first reported reports in 2019 that China helped Saudi Arabia build weapons. CNN also cited US intelligence sources.  

Although it was unclear at the time what missiles Saudi Arabia has, although they appear to be similar in range and payload to Chinese weapons, 

In a twist of events, intelligence also suggests that Saudi Arabia sought ballistic technology from other countries. This makes it more difficult to determine the specific weapons built in Dawadmi.

MailOnline received no comment from the CIA regarding these allegations. Before publication, the Chinese and Saudi Arabian Embassies were not available to comment.  

This revelation will likely send waves through the Middle East, where rival power Saudi Arabia and Iran (which has its missiles) are in a quasi-cold war. 

If the missile making continues, it is highly unlikely that Iran or Saudi Arabia will stop producing them. 

Lewis stated that while Iran’s ballistic missile program has received a lot of attention, Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile development and production hasn’t been as well.

“The Saudi Arabian domestic production of ballistic rockets suggests that any diplomatic effort in order to reduce missile proliferation should include other regional actors like Israel or Saudi Arabia that also produce ballistic missiles.”  

The revelation is likely to send ripples through the Middle East where rival powers Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has its own missiles, (pictured on January 16) are locked in a quasi cold war

It is possible that the revelations will send ripples throughout Middle East. Rival powers Saudi Arabia (pictured above January 16) and Iran (pictured below January 16), are locked in a quasi-cold war.

Rows of missiles are stashed in an underground depot in Iran, were seen in footage broadcast by state TV in March as presenters boasted about the new so-called 'missile city'

In Iran’s underground repository, rows of missiles can be seen. State TV broadcast footage in March. Presenters boasted about the new’missile capital’. 

Saudi capability could undermine US attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear accord with Teheran in the face of wider consequences from the intelligence. 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister at the time warned in November 2020 that nuclear weapons would be developed if Iran was made a nuclear power. 

Adel al-Jubeir stated that it is a possibility for Middle-Eastern states to build nuclear weapons capabilities, if Iran cannot be stopped. He also said other countries could do so.  

This latest information comes as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched cruise and ballistic missiles during war games in The Gulf on Tuesday.

General Hossein Salami of the Guards stated that the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy uses ballistic missiles to hit its targets. 

Iran claimed that its ballistic missiles are capable of striking arch-foe Israel, Saudi Arabia, or US bases within the region.