China 'helping Saudi Arabia develop ballistic missiles' says US
China has helped Saudi Arabia develop its ballistic missile programme, according to intelligence given to Washington.
US intelligence say the kingdom, currently deadlocked in a war in Yemen, now has enough ballistic missiles to keep it on track with any regional arms race with the help of China according to a CNN report.
American analysts believe Saudi Arabia’s missile arsenal has put it way ahead of regional and ideological rival Iran in the arms race.
"Saudi Arabia needn't race Iran to produce or procure ballistic missiles. It already has a significant conventional military advantage," Behnam Taleblu of the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies told CNN.
Riyadh's efforts to heighten its ballistic missile programme is seen as a breaking point in decades-long effort to constrain missile proliferation in the volatile region.
Earlier this year, satellite images discovered that there may be a ballistic missile factory in Saudi Arabia.
The suspected facility was discovered at a missile base in al-Watah, near the capital Riyadh. It was unclear from the satellite images whether the facility was completed or functional.
If in operation, the suspected factory will enable the kingdom to manufacture its own ballistic missiles.
All three missile experts who reviewed high resolution images of the site in January said the photographs showed a rocket engine production and test facility, probably using solid fuel.
The alleged factory was discovered after Saudi Arabia spiked concerns when Crown Prince and de-facto leader Mohammed bin Salman said Riyadh would be more than willing to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran had them - a move that some US lawmakers are trying to resist.