Military experts have identified a previously undetected missile base in the Saudi Arabian desert, which appears to be targeting Israel and Iran.
Analysts at the IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review have said that satellite imagery indicates the existence of launch pads oriented in the direction of Israel and Iran’s major cities.
According to their assessment, the launch pads were designed for Saudi Arabia’s stockpile of Chinese-built DF3 missiles, and the significance of their orientation was due to the fact that the weapons are not remotely guided and must be articulated towards their target.
The analysts said that Al-Watah was likely to have been constructed within the past five years.
Robert Munks, deputy editor of the review, said: “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.”
“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.”
Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel but the Western-backed Saudi rulers share Israel's concern over Iran's nuclear programme.
It is believed that the kingdom is currently in the process of upgrading its missiles, although the 1980s-built Chinese-made DF3s, are potentially big enough to carry a nuclear device.
“While the lorry-launched missiles can theoretically be fired from any location, the idea of having pre-planned directional markers is to ensure that they can be deployed in accurate fashion as quickly as possible,” said Allison Puccioni, an image expert at IHS Jane's.