CNN reported on Thursday that US intelligence agencies have concluded Saudi Arabia is now actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with the help of China.
As the world’s largest importer of arms, Saudi Arabia has purchased ballistic missiles from China in the past but has not previously had the ability to manufacture them.
Unnamed sources told CNN that US officials at several agencies have been briefed in recent months on "on classified intelligence revealing multiple large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia."
In a statement to CNN, China’s Foreign Ministry said the two countries are "comprehensive strategic partners" and "have maintained friendly cooperation in all fields, including in the field of military trade."
"Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," the statement said.
Saudi Arabia is entirely reliant on the US to continue waging war in Yemen. While the US is still supporting the war, there have been efforts in Congress to cut off arms sales to Riyadh, which likely motivated the Saudis to look elsewhere for weapons.
CNN wrote in its in-depth report:
New satellite images obtained by CNN indicate the Saudis are already manufacturing ballistic missiles at a site previously constructed with Chinese assistance, according to experts who analyzed the photos and sources who confirmed they reflect advancements that are consistent with the latest US intelligence assessments.
Satellite photos taken by Planet, a commercial imaging company, between October 26 and November 9 show a burn operation occurred at a facility near Dawadmi, Saudi Arabia, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who told CNN this is "the first unambiguous evidence that the facility is operating to produce missiles."
So, U.S. "ally" Saudi Arabia started building ballistic missiles with China and didn't even tell us? WTAF. Clown Prince MBS (Mr. Bone Saw), call your office. https://t.co/FEu2TOreO1 Big scoop by @ZcohenCNN— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) December 23, 2021
The US has not been happy about the relationship between China and other Middle East allies. The UAE recently threatened to pull out of a $25 billion arms deal that includes F-35 fighter jets over security requirements the US wants in order to protect the technology from China. The US has also repeatedly warned Israel against doing business with China.