Photos show Saudi missile base possibly targeting Israel, Iran

July 11, 2013 at 2:16 PM
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LONDON, July 11 (UPI) -- A Saudi Arabian missile base has the capability to strike both Tel Aviv and Tehran, intelligence experts have concluded from a review of satellite images.

The photos show two launch pads in the Saudi desert with directional markings pointing toward Israel and Iran, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Citing a report by IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, the Telegraph said analysts believe the structures are launch sites for truck-mounted DF 3 missiles, which can travel up to 2,500 miles carrying a two-ton payload. The missiles are large enough to carry nuclear weapons.

The base is at al-Watah, about 125 miles southwest of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

"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," said Robert Monks, deputy editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review.

David Butter, an associate fellow at the London-based think tank Chatham House, was not surprised about the missiles, saying the Saudis appeared to be "looking towards some sort of deterrent capability."

Saudi Arabia does not have formal relations with Israel, but it has worked discretely with its neighbor to promote stability in the region. Iran is a mutual enemy of both countries.

The launch sites are believed to have been built within the last five years. IHS Jane's Intelligence Review discovered them while conducting an update of Saudi Arabia's military capabilities.

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