Newly-disclosed desert base raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s strategy


Defense analysis group says Saudi Arabia appears to be targeting regional rivals Iran and Israel with ballistic missiles from previously undisclosed desert base.

LONDON – Saudi Arabia appears to be targeting regional rivals Iran and Israel with ballistic missiles from a previously undisclosed desert base, a British-based defense analysis group said Thursday.

Satellite images show launch pads with some markings pointed towards potential Iranian targets and others towards possible locations in Israel, IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review said.

If confirmed, the base deep in the Saudi desert would be the third missile base identified in the oil-rich kingdom.

“Our assessment suggests that this base is either partly or fully operational, with the launch pads pointing in the directions of Israel and Iran respectively,” said Robert Munks, deputy editor of the review.

It could also function as a training and storage complex, IHS Jane’s said.

The launch pads are designed for Saudi Arabia’s lorry-launched DF-3 missiles, which are not self-guiding and need to be aligned before being fired, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said in a report on the base.

The Saudi facility has two launch pads, one on a bearing of 301 degrees aimed at Israel and the other at 10 degrees pointing towards Iran, the Jane’s report said.

“We cannot be certain that the missiles are pointed specifically at Tel Aviv and Tehran themselves, but if they were to be launched, you would expect them to be targeting major cities,” Munks said.

“We do not want to make too many inferences about the Saudi strategy, but clearly Saudi Arabia does not enjoy good relations with either Iran or Israel.”

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim kingdom, has repeatedly voiced fears about the nuclear threat posed by Shiite-dominated Iran, while it has also denounced Israel’s atomic capacity.

Munks said a missile base like the apparently new Saudi one would also help Saudi Arabia if it suddenly sought to acquire nuclear weapons, as its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal suggested in 2011.

“For such short notice, the foundations for both nuclear-capable launch vehicles and for acquiring the warheads will need to have been laid in advance,” Munks said.

Source: Middle East Online.


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