September 22, 2014 www.armyrecognition.com
Saudi Arabia purchased DF-21 ballistic missiles from China to defend Mecca and Medina, said Dr. Anwar Eshqi, a retired major general and advisor to the joint military council of Saudi Arabia, during a press conference.
"Saudi military did indeed receive DF-21 missiles from China and the integration of the missiles, including a full maintenance check and upgraded facilities, is complete," said Eshqi as cited in the state-run newspaper OKAZ. In addition to defending two holy cities of Islam, the DF-21 will also be used to form a protective umbrella to defend Saudi Arbia's allies over the Persian Gulf, he added, indicating that the missiles are not for offensive attacks.
The missile has a range of between 1000-1700 miles, and is believed to have a top speed of around Mach 5. Saudi Arbia signed contract with China to purchase DF-21s back in 2007, but neither side admitted to the deal, according to a US-based Newsweek report. Saudi Arabia is probably buying and announcing the purchase as a message to deter Iran.
The United States approved the sale of DF-21s to Saudi Arabia as long as they are not nuclear-capable variants of the missile, said the Newsweek report. Eshqi did state that the purchased DF-21s, however, can be equipped with a nuclear warhead. The decision made by the Saudi Arbian government to purchase Chinese instead of American missile systems shows that Riyadh is being pushed further away from Washington by its international policy towards towards Iran and Syria.