United States intelligence has shown that Saudi Arabia has stepped up its ballistic missile program with support from China, CNN reported Wednesday night, signalling a possible shift in USA policy not to allow missile proliferation in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has significantly escalated its ballistic missile program with the help of China, it was reported exclusively by CNN on Thursday.
In recent classified briefings between intelligence officials and leaders on Capitol Hill, the developments regarding Saudi Arabia's ballistic missile capabilities were not discussed, CNN reported.
Ballistic missiles have the ability to carry nuclear warheads to targets thousands of kilometers away.
Jeffery Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, said he would be a "little worried" that the U.S.is underestimating Saudi Arabia's ambitions.
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (seen in file photo) has said Saudi would immediately seek a nuclear weapon if Iran obtained one.
Saudi Arabia has always been wary of rivals' ballistic missile arsenals in the region and has seen the procurement of its own stock of missiles as a deterrent. The Saudi Embassy in the U.S. did not comment on the report, nor did U.S. State Department officials.
President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have shared a special relationship with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the real power behind the throne in the country.
While Saudi Arabia has previously been known to have procured Chinese ballistic missiles directly, the CNN report suggests the country is working to localize production.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told a press conference in Beijing on Thursday that this cooperation did not violate global law. Saudi Arabia has said that it would pursue nuclear weapons if Iran does. Such cooperation does not violate any worldwide laws, nor does it involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction'.