Saudi Arabia is actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, a report said on Thursday, a move that could cause Iran, the arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, to refuse pressure to stop pursuing its nuclear and missile programs in an initiative backed by the US, EU, Russia and China.
US intelligence agencies said satellite images prove the Saudis branched out to building rather than buying weapons from China, CNN reported.
“The domestic production of ballistic missiles by Saudi Arabia suggests that any diplomatic effort to control missile proliferation would need to involve other regional actors, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, that produce their own ballistic missiles,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on weapons who is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told CNN.
The Saudi missile program with Chinese technical aid could also affect US President Joe Biden administration’s efforts to thaw relations with Beijing, the report said.
“Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.
“Normally, the US would have pressured Saudi Arabia not to pursue these capabilities, but the first indicators that the Saudis were pursuing these capabilities indigenously emerged during the Trump era,” according to Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy and weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
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