We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

China Helps Saudi Arabia Nuke Up: Daniel 7

US intel shows China is helping Saudi Arabia build its own ballistic missiles: Report

Intelligence agencies in the United States have determined that Saudi Arabia is now manufacturing ballistic missiles with China’s assistance, a development that could have significant implications for the Middle East and complicate efforts by the Biden administration to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Saudi Arabia’s perennial foe.

As per a report by CNN, the Saudis have historically bought ballistic missiles from China, but have never been able to build their own, until now. CNN also obtained satellite images suggesting the Kingdom is manufacturing weapons in one or more locations.

Recent months have seen US officials from numerous agencies, including the White House’s National Security Council, briefed on classified information that reveals large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia.

Now the Biden administration is facing increasingly pressing questions about whether Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile advances will change regional power dynamics. This can potentially complicate efforts to include missile technology restrictions in a nuclear deal with Iran, a goal shared by the US, Europe, Israel and the Gulf countries.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter enemies, and Tehran is unlikely to agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has already begun manufacturing its own.

There could also be diplomatic complications with the US response. Especially with the Biden administration trying to reengage Beijing on several high-priority policy issues, including climate change, trade, and the pandemic, any US response may be complicated by diplomatic considerations with China.

An official in the Biden administration told CNN that it is simply a matter of calibrating.

Both the National Security Council and the CIA declined to comment.

The report states that when asked if sensitive ballistic missile technology has recently been transferred between China and Saudi Arabia, the Chinese Foreign Ministry explained that the two countries are “comprehensive strategic partners” and that they maintain friendly cooperation in all areas, including military trade.

There is no violation of international law in such cooperation, and it does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the statement added.

The range and payload of the ballistic missiles Saudi Arabia is building at this site are still not known.

India’s new nuclear strike policy shift before the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

India launched its Shaurya hypersonic weapon in October 2021. Image: Twitter

India’s hypersonics hint at nuclear strike policy shift

Successful Shaurya hypersonic weapon test enhances strategic ambiguity of India’s ‘no first use’ nuclear stance

by Gabriel Honrada December 24, 2021

With little fanfare, India successfully tested its Shaurya hypersonic weapon with a strike range of 1,000 kilometers back in October. But analysts are now starting to wonder whether the weapon’s development could signal a move away from New Delhi’s stated “no first use” (NFU) nuclear policy.

The missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, maneuvered during its terminal phase and struck its designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal. Because India keeps the Shaurya program under a tight shroud of secrecy, scant technical details are publicly available.

The weapon is allegedly an improved land-based version of the Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which was first developed in the 1990s.

In September 2020, India successfully testedits Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), which flew at Mach-6 speed while being tracked by a ship in the Bay of Bengal. That success was followed by a failed test in 2019, where the HSTDV’s Agni-I rocket booster became uncontrollable and it did not reach the desired altitude.

Significantly, India has a joint project with Russia to develop the Brahmos II hypersonic weapon, which shares design elements with Russia’s 3M22 Tsirkon missile. Brahmos II is under development by Brahmos Aerospace, established in 1998 through an intergovernmental agreement between India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia.

Hypersonic weapons are designed to fly at Mach-5 to evade enemy missile defenses. They are useful in the early stages of battle to eliminate high-value targets and smooth the way for follow-up operations by conventional forces.

Such hypersonic targets could include early warning radars, airbases, missile batteries and command and control (C2) facilities, which are often linked to a nuclear-armed state’s nuclear warning systems.The Shaurya hypersonic weapon, pictured above, could signal a change to India’s nuclear policy. Photo: Wikimedia

As such, India’s hypersonic weapons program may signal that the country is changing its NFU nuclear policy to a counterforce policy, which sets out exceptions to its present stance. As India is engaged in longstanding conflicts with nuclear-armed Pakistan and China, India has strategic cause to review its nuclear policy.

With Pakistan’s refusal to adopt a NFU nuclear policy of its own, India’s hypersonic weapons could signal to Pakistan that it could conduct counterforce strikes to disarm Pakistan of its strategic nuclear arsenal, thereby softening the ground for India to overwhelm Pakistan with its superior conventional forces. 

Even if Pakistan were to limit the use of its nuclear arsenal to short-range tactical systems, there is a very likely possibility of nuclear escalation from a tactical to strategic level in a conflict scenario.

India’s hypersonic weapons program also adds teeth to the country’s deterrent posture vis-a-vis China. China has recently fielded the DF-19 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and has substantially enlargedits silo-based missile arsenal.

China has also fielded the  DF-17 hypersonic missile since 2019 and tested a new type of hypersonic weapon in July 2021. These developments may have prompted India to accelerate the development of its hypersonic weapons program to maintain its deterrent posture against China.

To be sure, India may remain committed to its NFU policy, despite developing hypersonic weapons. India’s small nuclear arsenal means that carrying out a nuclear attack against Pakistan would leave it vulnerable to a Chinese nuclear strike.

If India opted to use nuclear weapons against Pakistan, the move could remove China’s reluctance not to use nuclear weapons against India in the Himalayas, where the two sides are pitted in a standoff.

In the 1960s, India considered developing its own tactical nuclear weapons to offset China’s conventional military superiority but dropped the idea on the basis that tactical nuclear exchanges would inevitably lead to strategic-level escalation.A DF-17 missile is unveiled during the military parade in Tiananmen Square. Photo AFP / Greg Baker

That said, India’s hypersonic weapons program enhances the strategic ambiguity element in its nuclear policy. The weapons create a grey area between official policy statements and actual capability development, with the lack of officially declared red lines restraining an adversary from conducting actions that could spark a nuclear response.

 While India’s hypersonic weapons program gives it counterforce capabilities against Pakistan and China, India’s longstanding NFU policy, operational and capability constraints and the threat of nuclear escalation presents strong incentives against openly changing its NFU stance.

In that sense, India’s hypersonic weapons fulfill their purpose, which is to deter India’s adversaries from using nuclear weapons in the first place.

A Palestinian Family Obliterated Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Not Just Your Picture – A Palestinian Family Obliterated in an Israeli Strike

 At the center of Not Just Your Picture, an hour-long documentary by Anne Paq and Dror Dayan, is the obliteration of a Gaza family in an Israeli airstrike.

Anne Paq, a photographer and videographer, is a longtime contributor to The Electronic Intifada. Dayan, in addition to being a filmmaker, is a Palestine solidarity activist based in Berlin and the UK.

Some 150 families in Gaza lost three or more members in Israeli attacks in July and August 2014, resulting in some 750 deaths.

Among them were Ibrahim and Taghrid Kilani, their five young children and four of Taghrid’s siblings.

They perished together when Israel bombed the Gaza City tower in which they were staying, as Ibrahim thought the area would be safer than their home in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya.

Not Just Your Picture was produced in 2019 but is only now being screened in theaters after COVID-19 restrictions put events on hold last year.

Since then, Israel has wrought fresh horrors on Palestinians in Gaza.

Fourteen Palestinian families lost three or more members in Israeli attacks on their Gaza homes this May.

In their documentary, Paq and Dayan do not dwell on the spectacle of Israeli airstrikes. Theirs is a film about a family, not war.

Not Just Your Picture revolves around Ibrahim, shown in the first scene being toasted by his German father-in-law from his first marriage.

The father-in-law acknowledges the hardships Ibrahim went through to realize his dream as an engineer and to set up a life for himself in Germany.

Montages of family videos allow the viewer to see Ibrahim embracing his wife and playing with his young children in Germany. He is more than a victim; he is someone who led a singular, irreplaceable life.

Viewers learn that Ibrahim’s family in Gaza scrimped and saved to help him fulfill his ambitions, as his devoted, chain-smoking brother Saleh recalls.

After 20 years in Germany, Ibrahim returned to Gaza in 2002. His children Ramsis and Layla were 12 and 9 at the time, respectively.

In Gaza, he eventually remarried and had five children with his second wife, Taghrid.

Layla and Ramsis recall with emotion the terrible day they learned that their father, Taghrid and their children were killed.

The unthinkable loss would propel their lives in new directions.

Not Just Your Picture shows Ramsis traveling to meet an official from a human rights group as he seeks justice for his family. He is told that there is no movement on the case.

Angela Merkel’s government has not formally acknowledged what happened to his family, which is particularly painful for Ramsis. He reckons with the fact that pursuing justice through legal channels would take decades and “would basically be my life.”

Meanwhile, Layla, politicized in her grief, feels compelled to form her own analysis of the situation of injustice in her father’s homeland. She seeks to understand what would make someone “fire at a building without knowing who’s inside.”

She travels to the West Bank, where she is shocked by the blatant discrimination that Israel exercises against Palestinians there.

In one scene, a settler in Hebron’s Old City tries to shoo away Layla and her tour group as they visit the shuttered shops along Shuhada Street.

“This is my country!” the settler yells at the group before admonishing two Israeli soldiers standing nearby, waving his finger in their faces.

Layla Kilani in the occupied West Bank.

The filmmakers let viewers see the power structures at play in Palestine for themselves, rather than explaining the history or context through voiceover narration or interviews with experts. By doing so, they show rather than tell.

The siblings, meanwhile, have video calls with their uncle Saleh and their extended family in Gaza.

An interpreter translates from English to Arabic during these calls, which are cut short by the chronic electricity crisis in Gaza – a direct result of Israel’s severe blockade on the territory.

The blockade also prevents the family from being in the same room together. Despite the geographic proximity between Gaza, where Saleh lives, and Ramallah, where Layla is staying, the two cannot meet.

This more than anything seems to upset Saleh. Layla blames the situation on Israel, but she is corrected by her uncle, who says, “It’s not Israel’s fault; it’s the fault of the world.”

Indeed, it is the fault of Israel’s international friends like Germany, whose leaders pledge their unconditional support for the state no matter what it does to the Palestinians living under its occupation and apartheid rule.

It is because of the shameful, shocking and scandalous absence of accountability that in 2021, Israel can massacre yet more Palestinians in the sanctity of their homes.

The dramatic spectacle of Israeli violence might be the obvious focus for a film. But Paq and Dror choose instead to depict the more insidious and invisible violence of how Israeli policy fragments families.

Ramsis and Layla were never able to visit their father after he moved back to Gaza, last seeing him in person when they were 11 and 9, respectively. Ibrahim’s young children in Gaza had never met their older half-siblings in Germany.

Ibrahim obtained German citizenship for his children in Gaza to connect them to Ramsis and Layla. He bought a home in Beit Lahiya close to the sea because he wanted his children in Germany to visit.

Ibrahim Kilani’s family in Gaza watch a video of Ramsis addressing a conference in Europe.

But that family reunion never came. And neither has any condemnation from the German government after the massacre of six of its citizens in an Israeli airstrike.

The only thing Ramsis has received is a carefully worded letter of condolence from an employee at the German diplomatic mission in Ramallah, writing in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the government.

Not Just Your Picture shows Ramsis and Layla, marginalized by their government, building a relationship with their family in Gaza and deepening their connection to the Palestinian cause and their Palestinian identity.

Their father’s family in Gaza express pride after watching a video of Ramsis making a speech and advocating for justice during a conference in Europe.

They encourage him to remain active in support of the Palestinian cause.

As one of his relatives explains: “If you speak up, you die, and if you don’t speak up, you die. So speak up!”

It’s a message that all viewers should take away from this film so that no more families are erased from existence in Gaza.

A pair of hands holds five passports opened to page showing photos

Cover Photograph: The German passports belonging to Ibrahim Kilani and four of his five children killed in an Israeli airstrike along with their mother.

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.

The Electronic Intifada

Russia Is Getting Ready to Showcase Its Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia Is Getting Ready to Showcase Its Hypersonic Weapons

Russia’s air force will receive a number of next-generation aircraft armed with hypersonic weapons in coming years, according to a top military official.

“Our task is to commission new generation weapons, aircraft and special equipment, including those armed with hypersonic weapons and to participate in a strategic command staff exercise,” Aerospace Force Deputy Commander Colonel-General Andrey Yudin said on Tuesday. Yudin did not specify the hypersonic weapons or new aircraft in question.

The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile was unveiled by Russian president Vladimir Putin during his 2018 state-of-the-nation address. The Kinzhal missile reportedly boasts a maximum range of up to 3,000 kilometers and top speed of Mach 12, or roughly 9,200 miles per hour. Kinzhal will be compatible with the new Tu-22M3M, the latest variant of the Soviet-era Tu-22M strike bomber, and a specially modified “MiG-31K” version of the Mikoyan MiG-31interceptor. Russian media reported earlier that the Kremlin is reviewing proposals to fit the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter with the Kinzhal missile or a smaller “Kinzhal-like” derivative, but the current state of these alleged deliberations remains unclear.

Russia’s defense industry is developing at least two next-generation aircraft fighters: the PAK DA stealth bomber and PAK DP interceptor. Whereas prior Russian aircraft modernization programs relied on iterations of Soviet-era airframes, both the PAK DA and PAK DP are based on new post-Soviet designs and will reportedly offer vast improvements in stealth performance over much of Russia’s current fleet. The two fighter jets are not expected to start entering service until the late 2020s or early 2030s. 

Top Russian officials, including Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, praised the country’s military modernization programs during a recent defense ministry board meeting. Shoigu said that Russia’s current level of nuclear modernization, 89.1 percent, is the highest in the country’s history. Putin joined via video linkup to observe the commission ceremony of the nuclear-powered Knyaz Oleg ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and Novosibirsk cruise missile submarine, belonging to the new Borei-A and Yasen-M classes respectively. 

Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia’s navy and ground forces sit at a 71.2 percent modernization rate. “As a result of operative management of cash flows more than 258 billion rubles will be spent on high accuracy weapons. By 2026, the number of long-range delivery vehicles carrying smart weapons will grow by 30% and that of cruise missiles of different types will double,” Shoigu added. The defense ministry announced that the country’s Aerospaces Forces received a total of 250 pieces of new equipment, though officials did not appear to provide an estimate of the share of modernized aircraft currently serving in Russia’s air force.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest. 

Image: Reuters

The Russian Horn Upgrades Its Nuclear Forces

Russia Upgrades Its Nuclear Forces to Deter America

Here’s What You Need to Remember: Moscow still retains a stockpile of thousands of warheads – including more than 1,500 warheads that are deployed on missiles and bombers capable of reaching U.S. territory.

Last year, a Congressional Research Service Report published by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) highlighted the state of Russia’s nuclear weapons.

Moscow’s nuclear forces consisted of both long-range, strategic systems – including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers – and shorter- and medium-range delivery systems.

Russia’s Modernizing Nuclear Force 

Russia has also been modernizing its nuclear forces and has been actively replacing Soviet-era systems with new missiles, submarines and aircraft while developing newer types of delivery systems including hypersonic missiles.

Even as the number of Russia’s nuclear weapons has declined sharply since the end of the Cold War, Moscow still retains a stockpile of thousands of warheads – including more than 1,500 warheads that are deployed on missiles and bombers capable of reaching U.S. territory.

This month, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin further emphasized the efforts Russia is making to modernize its nuclear force. Advanced weaponry in Russia’s nuclear triad – which comprises strategic aircraft, ICBMs and nuclear-powered missile-carrying submarines – will top eighty-eight percent this year, reported Tass.

“The share of advanced weapons and hardware in the troops will make up almost 76% by 2024,” Putin said in his annual State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday.

“This is a very good figure. In the nuclear triad, it will exceed 88% already this year,” he added.

Russia has been constantly improving and qualitatively strengthening its Armed Forces, Putin further noted.

“In particular, special attention should be paid to developing military education,” said Putin. “This should be done both on the basis of military educational establishments and military training centers at civil higher educational institutions.”

Russia’s Military: Cutting Edge Weapons On The Way?

Wednesday’s address followed Putin’s February speech in which he proclaimed that the Russian Army and Russian Navy would be equipped with a variety of cutting-edge weapons systems, which will include lasers and hypersonic systems. He also suggested that Russian weapons would have no equivalents in the world.

“We will be doing our utmost so that our army and navy can become more and more advanced, which means strengthening capabilities of the strategic forces, channeling cutting-edge hardware to all types of forces, including laser, hypersonic systems and high-precision systems,” noted Putin.

“Along with this, as for promising models which are actually the weapons of the future, we have already gone from the stage of trials up to [the stage] of putting them on constant combat duty,” Putin added. “Undoubtedly, courageous people loyal to the Fatherland, true patriots – soldiers and sergeants, and I will particularly emphasize, our officers, or the country’s officer corps – have always been and still remain the fundamental and most solid basis of our Armed Forces.”

He made the remarks during the State Kremlin Palace gala concert marking Defender of the Motherland Day. The Russian holiday occurs on February 23, began in 1922 as the anniversary of the Red Army’s establishment, and until 1993 was called the Day of the Soviet Army and Navy.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Reuters

Saudi Arabia is now building up her nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Exclusive: US intel shows Saudi Arabia escalated its missile program with help from China

CNN Exclusive: US intel and satellite images show Saudi Arabia is now building its own ballistic missiles with help of China

Washington (CNN) — US intelligence agencies have assessed that Saudi Arabia is now actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, CNN has learned, a development that could have significant ripple effects across the Middle East and complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to restrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the Saudis’ top regional rival. 

Saudi Arabia is known to have purchased ballistic missiles from China in the past but has never been able to build its own — until now, according to three sources familiar with the latest intelligence. Satellite images obtained by CNN also suggest the Kingdom is currently manufacturing the weapons in at least one location.

US officials at numerous agencies, including the National Security Council at the White House, have been briefed in recent months on classified intelligence revealing multiple large-scale transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia, according to two sources familiar with the latest assessments. The Biden administration is now confronted with increasingly urgent questions about whether Saudi’s ballistic missile advancements could dramatically change regional power dynamics and complicate efforts to expand the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran to include restraints on its own missile technology — a goal shared by the US, Europe, Israel and Gulf countries. 

Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies and it is unlikely Tehran will agree to stop making ballistic missiles if Saudi Arabia has begun manufacturing its own. “While significant attention has been focused on Iran’s large ballistic missile program, Saudi Arabia’s development and now production of ballistic missiles has not received the same level of scrutiny,” Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told CNN. “The domestic production of ballistic missiles by Saudi Arabia suggests that any diplomatic effort to control missile proliferation would need to involve other regional actors, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, that produce their own ballistic missiles,” Lewis added.Any US response could also be complicated by diplomatic considerations with China, as the Biden administration seeks to reengage Beijing on several other high-priority policy issues, including climate, trade and the pandemic. “It’s all a matter of calibration,” a senior administration official told CNN.The National Security Council and CIA declined to comment.Asked if there have been any recent transfers of sensitive ballistic missile technology between China and Saudi Arabia, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN in a statement that the two countries are “comprehensive strategic partners” and “have maintained friendly cooperation in all fields, including in the field of military trade.””Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said.The Saudi Government and embassy in Washington did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.New challenges for BidenCNN first reported in 2019 that US intelligence agencies were aware that Saudi Arabia was collaborating with China to advance its ballistic missile program.The Trump administration did not initially disclose its knowledge of that classified intelligence to key members of Congress, infuriating Democrats who discovered it outside of regular US government channels and concluded it had been deliberately left out of a series of briefings where they say it should have been presented.That fueled Democratic criticism that the Trump administration was too soft on Saudi. Nuclear proliferation experts also say Trump’s lack of response emboldened the Saudis to continue expanding their ballistic missile program. “Normally, the U.S. would have pressured Saudi Arabia not to pursue these capabilities, but the first indicators that the Saudis were pursuing these capabilities indigenously emerged during the Trump era. The Trump administration, to put it lightly, was not interested in bearing down on Riyadh over these issues,” according to Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy and weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Some lawmakers have been briefed over the past few months on new intelligence about transfers of ballistic missile tech between Saudi Arabia and China, multiple sources told CNN. The Biden administration is preparing to sanction some organizations involved in the transfers, sources told CNN, though some on Capitol Hill are concerned the White House is not willing to impose significant consequences on the Saudi government for its actions. Given the current state of negotiations with Iran, the Saudi missile program could make an already thorny problem even more difficult. “A robust Saudi missile program would introduce new challenges to constraining other missile programs in the region. To take just one example, Iran’s missiles, which are a major concern to the U.S., would be more difficult to constrain in the future without parallel constraints on a growing Saudi program,” Panda told CNN. ‘First unambiguous evidence’New satellite images obtained by CNN indicate the Saudis are already manufacturing ballistic missiles at a site previously constructed with Chinese assistance, according to experts who analyzed the photos and sources who confirmed they reflect advancements that are consistent with the latest US intelligence assessments. Satellite photos taken by Planet, a commercial imaging company, between October 26 and November 9 show a burn operation occurred at a facility near Dawadmi, Saudi Arabia, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who told CNN this is “the first unambiguous evidence that the facility is operating to produce missiles.” New satellite images suggest Saudi Arabia is now producing ballistic missiles at the site. The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a “burn pit” to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles. Satellite image captured on November 2 shows the facility is operating a “burn pit” to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles. “The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a ‘burn pit’ to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles,” said Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies who reviewed the images. “Casting rocket motors results in leftover propellant, which is an explosive hazard. Solid-propellant missile production facilities often have burn pits where leftover propellant can be disposed of by burning. Burn operations are, therefore, a strong signature that the facility is actively casting solid rocket motors,” he added.A satellite image captured on November 9 shows the “burn pit,” which is used to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles, post-burn cleanup. Still, little is known about the ballistic missiles that Saudi Arabia is building at this site, including important details like range and payload. Considering the facility in question was built with Chinese assistance and new intelligence assessments showing Saudi Arabia has recently purchased sensitive ballistic missile technology from China, it is possible that the missiles being produced there are of Chinese design, according to Lewis. But there is also evidence Saudi Arabia has looked to other countries for help with developing a ballistic missile program in recent years, making it difficult to identify exactly which weapons system the Kingdom is now building at this facility, Lewis noted.