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Agence France Presse March 27, 2002

Saudi Arabia secretly built large missiles base in desert: Israeli report

Al Sulayyil IRBM Base, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia has secretly built a huge missile base in the heart of its desert, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported on Wednesday, with photos of what it said was the massive installation.

It said the pictures were taken "two weeks ago" for the paper by the satellite Ikonos, whose advanced technology allows for high definition. The missile base is located in the area of Al-Sulayil oasis, approximately 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the capital Riyadh, the paper said.

It houses fortified storage facilities and scores of Chinese CSS-2 missiles delivered since 1990 with a range of 2,500-3,500 kilometres (1,500-2,100 miles), the newspaper said.

It said the recent Saudi initiative to offer Israel normal ties in exchange for a return of Arab lands seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war "gave a moderate image of Saudi Arabia which is only one facet of its double game."

Israeli "intelligence officials are worried about these developments but silence is being kept because of strong US pressure," the paper added.

Yediot Aharonot published the document on the alleged secret Saudi missile base just hours before the opening of the Arab summit in Beirut, where Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdel Aziz was to present his peace plan.

Copyright 2002 Agence France Presse