Saudis are buying nuclear-capable missiles from China

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by amoy, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Saudis are buying nuclear-capable missiles from China

    DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Saudi Arabia has set its feet on the path to a nuclear weapon capability and is negotiating in Beijng the purchase of Chinese nuclear-capable Dong-Feng 21 ((NATO-codenamed CSS-5) ballistic missile.

    China, which has agreed to the transaction in principle, would also build a base of operations near Riyadh for the new Saudi purchases.
    As we reported last year, Saudi Arabia has struck a deal with Pakistan for the availability on demand of a nuclear warhead from Islamabad’s arsenal for fitting onto a ballistic missile.

    Riyadh owns a direct interest in the two most active Middle East issues: Iran and Syria.

    Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been advancing for two decades regardless of countless attempts at restraint by every diplomatic tool under the sun and a rising scale of sanctions – to no avail.

    Tehran marches on regardless of impediments. In Istanbul, Tuesday, July 3, the six powers and Iran failed the fourth attempt to reach an accommodation on Iran’s nuclear program.

    The Syrian ruler Bashar Assad remains equally undeterred by international condemnation. Saturday, June 30, the US and Russia again failed to agree on a joint plan of action in Syria.

    Saudi forces have been poised for action in Syria on the Jordanian and Iraqi borders since US Secretary of State Leon Panetta visited Riyadh in late June.

    On July 1, they redoubled their military preparedness when the European Union clamped down an oil embargo on Iran. The Saudis, the US Fifth Fleet and the entire Gulf region are since braced for Iranian reprisals which could come in the form of closure by Tehran of the vital Straits of Hormuz to shipping or strikes against the Gulf emirates’ oil exporting facilities.

    Tension shot up again when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched a three-day missile drill against simulated enemy bases in the region – expanding its threats to include US forces and bases in the region, Israel and Turkey.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Debka files usually has very speculative and not a credible source of information. I think overall it would be more credible to expect the US providing the Saudis a nuclear umbrealla than China given the current situation with Iran and Syria.

    There is the well known fact of the around 20 or so CSS-2 missiles that Saudis brought from China in the 80s which were also nuclear capable as a deterrent for Iran. And there are rumours that recently the Saudis contracted the Chinese to upgrade the 3 decade old infrastructure system. But still no confirmation that it had taken place

    The view was that the Americans were basically told that either you provide the security umbrella and military upgrades to GCC countries or we go to the Chinese to get the upgrade in place. But since 2007, we have seen close to $80 Billion worth of military deals in jets, tanks and other weaponry that the Saudis and other GCC countries have signed. In other words, the Saudis were sucessfully able to play the China/Iran card to get their military upgrades in place.
     
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  4. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    That is a very funny speculation! With more than 10,000 USA soliders in theirs soil, what other more security gurantee they can get from USA?
    Go to chinese? That is even more stupid idea. Since when china has the ability to replace USA as the major weapon supplier to Saudis? The survivle of Saudis royal family is relying upon american's protection.
    As the matter of fact, Saudis doesn't need to play any card with USA. They have the deepest pocket and they are the best ally of USA in Arab world. They can always get what they want from USA.
     
  5. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    why do the Saudis need an IRBM to hit Iran?
     
  6. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    isnt there a ban on the sale of any missile of more than 299 km range due to MTCR - if im right ? - so why is the world and UNSC remaining silent about the sale of any missiles with range longer than 299km ?
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    if true this is a violation of NPT and MCTR and possibly FMCT but it is not the first time for
    China.
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Do you have any credible source about 10k US soldiers on Saudi soil now? Besides, having foreign troops in a country will not be popular for the native poplation. When the US soldiers came for the Gulf war and stayed back, this became one of the rallying points for OBL to attak the Saudi govt. One of their initial attacks were on US army barracks and the USS Cole.

    Since 2002-2003, US forces are only a trickle now and present only as liason officers or trainers. However, they do maintain a strong naval and aircraft carrier prescence in the smaller Gulf states.

    The Saudis in the 80s had first gone to the US to get intermediate range missiles as a deterrent against Iran. The US refused to provide these to them. And the Saudis were not sure if the US would stand up to the Iranians on their behalf. From the US perspective, there was really no reason to keep enganged with Iran or the Gulf region as the action was now moving to Afghanistan.

    Prince Bandar was involved in the deal and being the resourceful person that he is, went to the Chinese to get the CSS-2 missiles. Robert Lacy in his book Inside the Kingdom has a detailed section based on his interviews with some principal characters including Prince Bandar on this. While the request for the US missiles were around 1000-1200km range. The CSS-2 had a 2600km range. Moreover, they could also be used with nuclear warheads and that is when the alarm bells started ringing in the US.

    The other crucial thing to understand - no offence to Chinese members - is that the CSS-2 missile system was junk. The Chinese themselves built only 200 or so missiles of which 20-30 were sold to the Saudis. It used a liquid propellant and was quite dangerous and tocix to handle and man. And it cost the Saudis $3+ billion then and for all intents and purposes were ripped off with the deal. After 3 decades, the Saudis would be lucky if they could get them to fire even. The fact that the Saudis didn't use these missiles in the Iraq war in 92 just a few years after this was installed while the Iraqis bombarded the Saudis with Scud missiles indicates IMO that they were either not operational or not considered reliable by the Saudis and is quite telling.

    On 1988, the Saudis singed the NPT, most likely to assure the Americans that they are not pursuing nuclear warheads.

    This article gives a good overview from on what the US thinking was in 87 when the deal came out in the open. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-05-04/news/mn-2143_1_saudi-arabia

    Since 2007-08 onwards, the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons program meant that the Saudis need to keep the US engaged in the region. The threat of Saudis going nuclear if Iran does and upgrading the missile systems by Chinese are valid points to play up in front of the Americans. It doesn't mean that the Saudis would actually go nuclear or actually buy a new missile system from the Chinese but if hyping these up helps the Americans into favourable action then why not. Kind of like Israel hypes up the threat of military strikes against Iran to maintain a credibility of threat and spur the US to take a tougher stance on Iran.

    Since the rumours that the Saudis might contract the Chinese for "upgrading CSS missiles" around that time(07-08) we have:
    (1) A civil nuclear co-operation deal between US and Saudis
    (2) Billions of dollars in military hardware and training including defensive missile systems and
    (3) harsh sanctions regime against Iran.

    And tellingly no confirmation of any purchase of a new set of missiles from China.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    MTCR came into affect in 1987 before the CSS-2 deal was actioned. And China is not part of the regime. That is why they have proliferated missile tech to North Korea and Pakistan among others.

    China has just given an assurance that they will abide by the 1987 guidelines.
     
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  10. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @LethalForce

    A 300km range missile would not cover all of Iran. And at that time (80s) the CSS-2s were probably the only commercially (though not very good) longer range missiles. The DF-21 is the only major MRBM in the 1000-2500km range but that was still under development in the 80s

    On the NPT and FCMT, both treaties don't stipulate ballistic missiles control. Its restricted to controls around nuclear fissile material and nuclear weapons.
     

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