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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Al-Watah Missile Base - 24.248N 44.673E / 2414'53" N, 4440'24" E

Two ballistic missile bases in Al-Jufayr near Riyadh and Al-Sulayyil about 450 km south of the capital had long been known. In 2013 British military experts found on satellite imagery a new, modern rocket base of the Saudis, that of Al-Watah, about 200 km southwest of Riyadh, in a mountainous region. It is said to have been rigged at the earliest in 2008. Reports said that the rockets there are aimed at targets in Israel and Iran. The underground complex has at least 7 entrance gates, probably more.

The facility is smack dab in the middle of the subsequently reported Al-Dawadmi missile factory. The construction of this factory has pretty much obliterated the pre-esiting missile base, suggesting the DF-3 is no longer active in Saudi service.

Saudi Arabia appeared to have a ballistic missile site possessing launch sites oriented toward Israel and Iran, according to an analysis of satellite images from Janes Defence Weekly in July 2013. The site believed to use Chinese DF-3 ballistic missiles acquired by Saudi Arabia in the 1980s is about 125 miles southwest of the capital of Riyadh near the town of Al-Watah. According to the report, one launch pad is oriented toward Israeli targets including Tel Aviv while a second pad is set to send missiles in the direction of Tehran.

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 Janes Intelligence Review in a statement. 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. 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, Munks said.

Al-Watah is 200 km west-southwest of Riyadh, in the low but quite rocky mountains. The analysts think that the base was built no earlier than 2008. The base has several underground entry gates, parking slots for mobile launchers and two large launch pads that are identical to ones that can be seen at Chinese DF-3 (CSS-2). Satellite imagery shows the Al-Watah site differs in layout from the two previously identified launch sites for the DF-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that Saudi Arabia reportedly acquired from China in the 1980s. Most notably, it does not appear to have a garrison complex.

Al-Watah  Missile Base Al-Watah  Missile Base Al-Watah  Missile Base Al-Watah  Missile Base

Al-Dawadmi Missile Factory - 24.220N 44.706E

According to satellite imagery reported by The Washington Post in January 2019, Saudi Arabia is building its first factory to produce ballistic missiles. It is located at the previously detected missile base in al-Watah district, southwest of the capital of Riyadh. Jeffrey Lewis, the prominent weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, argued that this development raises the possibility that Saudi Arabia is going to build longer-range missiles and seek nuclear weapons. Lewis adds, We may be underestimating their desire and their capabilities.

Satellite imagery analysed by researchers at the Middlebury Institute and reported by the Washington Post, appeared to show that Saudi Arabia had been building a factory for rocket engines, at an existing missile base in al-Watah, south-west of Riyadh. The findings were confirmed by Michael Elleman of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and Joseph Bermudez of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Neither the Saudi embassy in the United States nor the U.S. government has reacted to this development. Given the growing fragility of U.S.-Saudi relations, Riyadh has decided to develop its nuclear and missile program even without American support.

Al-Dawadmi Missile Factory Al-Dawadmi Missile Factory

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Page last modified: 05-03-2019 18:31:03 ZULU