A post appeared on Facebook on Mar 9, 2022, that Russia is going to establish Africa’s biggest nuclear reactor in Ethiopia. The post was shared as breaking news. It used an image that shows heavy missile systems being transported on trailers.
The claim emerged amid the Russia-Ukraine war that started a few weeks ago and the fear of a potential nuclear war between NATO and Russia.
Ethiopia and Russia signed an agreement to develop a nuclear facility for civilian purposes in March 2022. They again struck a deal in April 2019 for Russia to construct a nuclear power plant in Ethiopia within ten years. The Ethiopian House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) approved the cooperation agreement in December 2020.
The post happens to be misleading in that it uses modern missiles along with the claim. And many may assume that a nuclear reactor facility means nuclear weapon manufacturing.
The actual deal Russia and Ethiopia got into was not about constructing a nuclear reactor. It is about developing a nuclear electric power generation facility. The Russian embassy in Addis Ababa told HaqCheck via email that the cooperation agreement will also enable Ethiopia to acquire nuclear technologies used in other sectors.
The post showed heavy missile systems and depicted that nuclear weapon manufacturing is going to be installed in Ethiopia while the deal between the two countries is otherwise, which is even way far from implementation.
Moreover, HaqCheck inspected the image and learned that it was taken from a video clip released by China Central Television (CCTV) in September 2019. The video shows a military parade on Sept 30, 2019 during the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China since the Communist Party of China took power on Oct 1, 1949.
The heavy missiles in the image that is used in the Facebook post were displayed during the parade. The missile is called DF (Dongfeng which means missile in Mandarin)-5B and is a sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile. Britannica states that a ballistic missile can carry conventional high explosives as well as chemical, biological, or nuclear munitions. CGTN also reported that the Dongfeng-5B ballistic missiles shown during the parade are nuclear missiles.
Hence, though there is a deal between Russia and Ethiopia for the development of a nuclear plant for civilian purposes, it doesn’t mean that Ethiopia is acquiring nuclear weapons.
The deal is that Russia will help Ethiopia to have a nuclear power facility to generate electric power within a 10 year time.
Hence, using an image that shows nuclear ballistic missiles is misleading. The ballistic missiles in the image also don’t belong to Russia.
Therefore, HaqCheck interrogated the Facebook post and rated it MISLEADING.