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Satellite Photos Reveal Ballistic Missile Factory 

Source: Washington Post

January 25 2019

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is believed to have built its first ballistic missile factory, according to satellite imagery cited by the Washington Post

Photos of a site in Al Watah, southwest of the capital, Riyadh, show a rocket-engine production and test facility, according to an analysis by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif. 

The Saudi rockets likely use solid fuel, said two other experts who reviewed the material. 

It is unclear if the facility is operational, said analysts. Construction appears to have begun in 2013, when King Salman was defense minister.

The factory indicates Saudi Arabia's intention to produce its own missiles after years of relying on imports, analysts said. 

Saudi Arabia has also sought to establish its own nuclear power program, which some fear could be used for military purposes. 

A domestic ballistic missile production capability would enable Riyadh to keep up with Iran, which has a robust missile program.

It is unclear where Saudi Arabia obtained the technology for the facility, although experts said the engine test stand resembled Chinese systems. Beijing has sold ballistic missiles to Riyadh in the past. 

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