Can Saudi Arabia produce ballistic missiles? Satellite imagery raises suspicions
Experts are questioning Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile production capabilities after satellite images emerged that appear to show production centers. While it remains uncertain whether the facilities are complete or capable of missile manufacture, the sites were started in 2013 and suggest Saudi intent to develop domestic production in order to reduce dependency on foreign purchases. This has caused analysts to warn about a potential Saudi-Iranian arms race in the future if the country begins a nuclear program alongside its ballistic missiles. A nuclear weapons expert has indicated that Saudi pursuit of ballistic missiles together with the launch of a nuclear program is unlikely, but that “we are maybe underestimating their desire and their capabilities” in these areas. The finding comes at a time when the country is pursuing a nuclear power-plant program with the U.S. that could later on support a weapons program. It also comes at a time when the world is questioning Saudi ambitions with the rise of crown prince bin Salman. Saudi spokespersons, the Pentagon, State Department, and the CIA have declined to comment on the matter.