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CNN Exclusive: US intel and satellite images show Saudi Arabia is now building its own ballistic missiles with help of China

Interesting Iranian perspective.

Missile Cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia: the whys and consequences​


December 2021

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Khalil Shirgholami


According to the report by CNN based on the US intelligence agencies’ report and satellite images, Saudi Arabia is developing its solid-fuel missile program with the help of China in the al-Dawadami region. The traces of casting of missile engines and the solid fuel remains can be seen in the satellite images. China-Saudi cooperation in developing the ballistic missile program which can have enormous impacts on the balance of power in the Middle East is questionable. China, as claimed, while developing ties with all Middle East countries has not entered into the regional geopolitical conflicts and rivalries and not taken sides with any regional actor. China says it has adopted the policy of “impartial interaction” and “friend of all, enemy to none”, with and economic approach , and for this reason, it has established comprehensive ties with all regional countries from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to Israel.
But helping a regional country to advance its ballistic missile program is not a step of the economic cooperation type, but a strategic step with specific geopolitical consequences. This has not only helped Saudi Arabia in creating balance against Iran which has so far had the upper hand in terms of missile capabilities and has questioned Iran’s deterrence in this area, but has seriously challenged the traditional notion that Iran, in the Middle East region, is the sole country out of the US orbit, and therefore the sole reliable and potential strategic partner of China. But how and within what framework of reason and logic this behavior of China and missile cooperation with Saudi can be interpreted?

Precedent

The first case of cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia in the missile area goes back to 1985, five years before the formation of diplomatic relations between the two countries, during which Saudis purchased CSS-2 midrange ballistic missiles named Dongfeng ( East Storm) and related launchers. The orchestrator of this action was General Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz who received the title of Saudi Arabia’s Father of Missile program. The transaction was not revealed until 1988. In 2007, too, Riyadh purchased DF-21 Dongfeng missiles from China. The point to be made is that both batches of these missiles had the capability of carrying nuclear warheads and brought up the speculation that Riyadh had in mind to equip these missiles with nuclear warheads. In 2019, the US intelligence agencies provided a report of China/Saudi cooperation for creating the Saudi missile program, which the Trump administration showed no reaction to. The reports published in that year indicated the existence of missile production factories in the al-Watah region in Southeast of Riyadh.

China-Saudi cooperation is not limited to the missile sector. Both countries have cooperated in the military UAV and nuclear areas. The Saudis have since long ago considered using nuclear energy and China’s ambitions for becoming a big nuclear energy actor of the Middle East have facilitated their cooperation. The Chinese, since 2017, have helped in discovering Uranium and Thorium resources and developing light-water reactors in Saudi Arabia. Also, there has been talk of construction of two nuclear reactors in the country. The US intelligence agencies’ reports indicate that there is a suspicious construct near Riyadh that could be one of the set of undeclared nuclear sites in Saudi Arabia. Another facility is the factory for producing yellow-cake in the far away region of al-Alla in Northwest of Saudi Arabia. These reports have raised the possibility of clandestine activities by Saudi Arabia and China for producing un-enriched uranium to be used later as fuel for the enriched nuclear weapons. This is while Bin Salman has stated if Iran becomes a nuclear power, this country will immediately take actions to follow suit.
In making offensive UAVs, Saudi Arabia has relied on China. In the 2017 King Salman trip to China, the two sides signed a protocol for establishing a drone factory for producing CH-4 UAVs and Saudis bought a number of these drones along with the Wing-long 1 and Wing-long 2 models from China.
The military ties between Saudi Arabia and China are some sort of strategic and security partnership. While the US-Saudi alliance has not been based on shared political values and has been merely interests-centered, in the China-Saudi relations, the gap of political values are not important and even the Chinese model of totalitarianism could be interesting to the Saudis. On the other side, to the two countries’ officials, the two plans of the Saudi Vision 2030 and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative have enormous synergy and convergence.
In response to reports about missile cooperation, the Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesman has said that the two countries are strategic Omni –lateral partners and enjoy friendly cooperation in all areas including military trade. China considers Saudi Arabia one of its major partners in the Middle East and sine 2005 to present has invested about $45 billion in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has become the main source of China’s crude oil. These signs tell us that the two countries’ partnership could be called a strategic partnership in the real sense of the word.

Reasons for China’s Strategic Partnership with Saudi Arabia
  • Given the downsize in the US presence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf and adoption of the Offshore Balancing Policy by the Biden administration, China has practically declared readiness to fill the US void with the traditional US allies. While the US allies of the region have been of the belief that China could not provide security and replace the US in this area, China is trying to prove it will spare no effort for cooperation with them in the security area and could be a reliable partner even in providing security. The significance of China’s missile cooperation with the Saudis will be clearer when the US has never been willing to help Saudis in this area.
  • In the global rivalry between China and the US and the perspective of their conflicts which go beyond the Asia-Pacific, one of China’s major strategies is separating the US from its allies. Preventing the US from alignments against China by developing ties with the US allies is another Chinese strategy which is pursued through economic interests and strategic partnerships.
  • In the Middle East, China can by strengthening its influence in the US-allied countries, especially in the Persian Gulf region, and comprehensive strategic partnership with them, minimize the possibility of cutting the flow of its interests, especially securing energy in the future conflicts with the US and equip itself with the necessary tools of deterrence against the probable US actions.
  • The economic benefits of entrance and presence in the arms market are huge for China. At present, the Chinese drones have a major role in the Middle East arms market. Saudi Arabia, as the richest country in the Persian Gulf and with the first rank in the defense budget of the region, is an attractive market for China.
  • Also Saudi diplomacy has been important in drawing China’s support

Conclusion

China has so far claimed it has no intention of entering the global and regional geopolitical equations beyond its immediate national security area that is Taiwan and the East and South China Seas. Also, in the Middle East and Persian Gulf conflicts, China has not sided with any actor and has established balanced relations with all regional countries. But what could be interpreted from China’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia in producing and indigenizing ballistic missiles is contrary to this claim. With partnering in developing the Saudi ballistic missile program, an area even the US has great reservations about, China is entering and influencing the regional geopolitical equations and creating grounds for proliferation of unconventional arms in the interest of one of the region’s countries. With helping Saudis in developing their ballistic missile program, China is, consciously or unconsciously, undermining Iran’s upper hand status of missile deterrence, while Saudi Arabia, by access to advanced new generation US aircraft, has a big advantage on its side and Iran’s advantage so far has been its ballistic missiles. Continuation of China-Saudi strategic partnership in the military area, could have profound impacts on the West Asia’s military and security equations as well as on the regional balance of power.

Khalil Shirgholami, Senior Expert of IPIS

(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)


Saudi Arabia-China Ballistic Missile Deal 'Deeply Alarming,' Senator Says​

BY DAVID BRENNAN ON 12/24/21 AT 6:58 AM EST


A reported deal between Saudi Arabia and China to help the former develop its ballistic missile arsenal could spark a new arms race in the region, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has warned.

CNN reported on Thursday that U.S. intelligence officials believe Riyadh—thanks to help from Beijing—is working to produce its own ballistic missiles, where in the past it had only been importing them from foreign buyers.

Several officials at multiple agencies, including the White House's National Security Council, have reportedly been briefed on the significant transfer of ballistic missile technology from China to Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, Markey—a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and its subcommittee dealing with the Middle East—responded, making clear his concern.

"Reports that China is aiding Saudi Arabia's ballistic missile program are deeply alarming, but not surprising," Markey wrote on on Twitter, urging his colleagues to act.

"Congress must pass my Saudi WMD Act to prevent an illicit Saudi weapons program which could spark an arms race in that region."

The lawmaker was referring to the Stopping Activities Underpinning Development in Weapons of Mass Destruction Act that Markey reintroduced in April along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Ted Lieu (D-CA).

The legislation "aims to restore oversight and take steps to impede access to sensitive technologies that could pave the way to Saudi Arabia acquiring a nuclear weapon."


The tense geopolitical situation in the Middle East—much of it now split into two blocs led by Iran on one side, and the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli partnership on the other—is driving a new arms race.

Iran's proxy forces in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon are armed and funded by Tehran, which is also pressing ahead with its own ballistic missile development despite international protests.

Iran has been expanding its nuclear program since former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal in 2018—with the backing of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

With JCPOA revival talks at an impasse, it is unclear whether the international community will be able to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons; or at least reaching a point where it can do so within a matter of weeks.

U.S. and European leaders have long sought to fold Iran's ballistic missile program into any future nuclear restrictions. Tehran has repeatedly rebuffed such suggestions. Reports that Saudi Arabia is now working on its own indigenous ballistic arsenal will likely make Iran cling even tighter to its own.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned in 2018 that Riyadh would seek parity if Iran develops nuclear weapons. "Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible," the Saudi heir told CBS.

Xi Jinping and King Salman in Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands with Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on March 16, 2017 in Beijing, China.LINTAO ZHANG/POOL/GETTY IMAGES

China also helped Iran's BM program through NKorea.. this is just a matter of balance in the region..
 
China also helped Iran's BM program through NKorea.. this is just a matter of balance in the region..

Either that or North Korea but if I am not wrong North Korea got theirs from China originally who themselves got theirs from the Soviet Union.

We got most of our tech from China as well back in the 1980's.

It is hard to reinvent the wheel.
 
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Speaking about the devil.

House Democrats ask Biden to prioritize oil, humanitarian issues ahead of potential Saudi meeting​

BY LAURA KELLY - 06/08/22 11:35 AM ET

The Democratic chairs of six House panels are asking President Biden to lay out a list of priorities ahead of a potential meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman that include addressing humanitarian issues in the kingdom and accountability in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to Biden dated Tuesday that sought to “share our views on the American relationship with Saudi Arabia.”


The reported meeting between Biden and Crown Prince Mohammad, which has yet to be formally confirmed by the White House, is said to also include talks about increasing oil production as domestic gas prices reach sky-high rates. Riyadh has sought to preserve its relationship with Moscow even as the U.S. has led a campaign to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The expected meeting would mark a stark reversal of the president’s remarks on the campaign trail in which he called the kingdom a “pariah.”

While acknowledging Saudi Arabia as “an important U.S. partner,” the Democratic lawmakers also called out the kingdom’s leadership in acting “in ways at odds with U.S. policy and values,” referring to the year that the crown prince asserted power.

“Of most immediate relevance, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to stabilize global energy markets is helping bankroll Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, while inflicting economic pain on everyday Americans,” the lawmakers wrote.


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was among the lawmakers who signed the letter, had earlier condemned the expected meeting on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying that Mohammad should be “shunned.”

In the letter, lawmakers lay out a list of demands they are calling on the president to deliver on regarding the administration’s strategy to “recalibrate” the relationship with the kingdom, to include commitments to stabilize global energy markets and abandon agreements it reached with Moscow within OPEC+, the larger grouping of the largest petroleum exporting countries.

Lawmakers also called for the president to continue the suspension of U.S. offensive military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war while pushing for multiparty peace talks.

They also want the president to call for an end to the kingdom’s arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and other human rights abuses, and demand accountability for the “murder of journalist and American legal resident Jamal Khashoggi.”

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed approved a plot to “capture or kill” Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018, but the administration withheld sanctions on the crown prince in an effort to preserve relations with the kingdom.

“The highest levels of the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are culpable in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and there is no escaping that stark truth laid bare in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s 2021 public assessment. We must continue to insist on justice for this horrific crime,” the lawmakers wrote.

Lawmakers further called on the president to stand “firm to U.S. policy on robust safeguards for any civil nuclear cooperation,” and “underscore the risks of greater Saudi cooperation with China.”


“We stand ready to work with you on advancing this agenda and request that senior members of your national security team brief Congress on these issues ahead of and following your trip,” the members wrote. “Pursuing these straightforward measures would achieve your goal of a recalibrated U.S.-Saudi relationship that serves both U.S. interests and values.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee.


I hope that Saudi Arabia humiliates Biden like they did with Obama at the end of the latters presidency.





:rofl:

Saudi Arabia should pursue nuclear weapons if they don’t have them already. The devil can never be trusted.
 
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CNN: The United States seeks to completely reset relations with Saudi Arabia
 
BIDEN: My going to Saudi Arabia is more than energy..

Prince Turki Al-Faisal:

- The declining popularity of President Biden among the Americans is what made him come to Saudi Arabia. It is his legitimacy that he hopes to bolster through his meeting with our Crown Prince.

Turki Al-Faisal: I am sure that if President Biden finally descends on Saudi soil, he will get all the honors due to all previous American presidents. So we say welcome, Mr. President.


Urgent | The White House: We are planning President Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia and countries in the region to strengthen the strategic partnership, and we will announce its date soon
 

Solid-propellant rocket tested at KAUST.

I do wonder what the status of the Saudi Arabian financed (R&D) Ukrainian short-range ballistic missile system HRIM-2 is nowadays given the war?

Surely the tech was long ago transferred to KSA but it would be very interesting to know what the status quo is as of today.

Are there even any Saudi Arabian users on PDF nowadays?
 

Solid-propellant rocket tested at KAUST.

I do wonder what the status of the Saudi Arabian financed (R&D) Ukrainian short-range ballistic missile system HRIM-2 is nowadays given the war?

Surely the tech was long ago transferred to KSA but it would be very interesting to know what the status quo is as of today.

Are there even any Saudi Arabian users on PDF nowadays?
The Grom-2 should be under refinement/sophistication in KSA now.. maybe with some help from China ..

I'm from Saudi origins.. there were some Saudi guys showing up here from time to time, but some got banned and others just disappeared..
 
The Grom-2 should be under refinement/sophistication in KSA now.. maybe with some help from China ..

I'm from Saudi origins.. there were some Saudi guys showing up here from time to time, but some got banned and others just disappeared..

What I don't like about Saudi Arabia's military developments is all the secrecy. It makes it very hard to follow developments.

It would be cool with some public ballistic missile tests etc. for instance.
 
What I don't like about Saudi Arabia's military developments is all the secrecy. It makes it very hard to follow developments.

It would be cool with some public ballistic missile tests etc. for instance.
The US, Russia, China don't publish their secret projects..they also just give hints here and there..

Saudi Arabia's systems are tested in China and other countries.. and there were rumors about a huge testing range in another Arab country ..not disclosed..
 
The US, Russia, China don't publish their secret projects..they also just give hints here and there..

Saudi Arabia's systems are tested in China and other countries.. and there were rumors about a huge testing range in another Arab country ..not disclosed..

Any guess what that other Arab country could be? Anyway one would think, given the huge size of Saudi Arabia and the many isolated areas in the country, that testing could occur within KSA without much trouble if any at all? So this is probably a political decision not to do it. I would just do it though.
 
We know that Saudi Arabia has plenty of ballistic missiles as that was already the case 35 years ago, but now with ongoing domestic production, the current number must be in the 100’s easily If not more.

If logic dictates that why are we yet to see a public display in the form of tests? Does Saudi Arabia worry about the political ramifications of such tests?

So what you are implying here is that China could have, in theory, exported the D-17 to both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?

We will see it happening as China adding more advanced weapons into its arsenal.
 
We will see it happening as China adding more advanced weapons into its arsenal.

Has there been any news in Chinese media about the topic of this thread since the news broke out? It is literally almost impossible to learn more about this development due to the secrecy of it all. It is a shame for us military enthusiasts.

In particular as I believe that Pakistani involvement is also present.
 
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Solid-propellant rocket tested at KAUST.

I do wonder what the status of the Saudi Arabian financed (R&D) Ukrainian short-range ballistic missile system HRIM-2 is nowadays given the war?

Surely the tech was long ago transferred to KSA but it would be very interesting to know what the status quo is as of today.

Are there even any Saudi Arabian users on PDF nowadays?

Old news but TKF-500 Saudi Arabian made jet engine used in small private aircraft, drones, and guided missiles. The engine was developed in JV by Brazil turbomachine company and KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology)

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