Saudi Arabia’s rulers capped a large military exercise on Tuesday by publicly parading their ballistic missiles for the first time. The King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Kuwait’s Defense Minister and the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff were also in attendance, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly. Don’t think they weren’t trying to send a message.
The weapon on display was the DF-3, a 1960s-era Chinese missile with a range of 1,500 miles and a 4,400-pound payload. The missiles aren’t known for accuracy, but parading them at all is a signal that the Kingdom can strike an adversary far outside its borders. Tehran is some 800 miles from the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The Saudis haven’t disclosed how many of the DF-3 missiles they have, but Jane’s reports that the number is believed to be between 30 and 120.
The missile display is one more sign of the Middle East arms race that is already well underway. As the U.S. retreats from the region, and Iran advances to the edge of acquiring a nuclear weapon, the Saudis no longer trust U.S. security guarantees. They are looking to arm themselves lest Iran use what everyone will understand is a nuclear-breakout capacity to demand concessions from its neighbors. […]