Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, Ryan Bowles and Rob Rudich’s Remarks Regarding Westinghouse

19 September 2022

Ambassador Brzezinski: Good afternoon, everyone. Before you comprises the US Embassy nuclear energy team: I’m United States Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, to my right is Ryan Bowles, a senior economic attache from the United States Department of State, and to my left is Robert Rudich, who runs the US Department of Energy’s Office at US Embassy Warsaw. The US Embassy in Warsaw is one of the few posts in the more than 100 embassies that we have around the world to have a Department of Energy Office full time here; Rob runs that office. And we are backed up by an incredible Embassy team that covers the dimensions that pertain to Poland’s security: military security, energy security, the security of democracy, business security. That is, in large part, what this is all about. Nuclear power development is interdependent with the other kinds of security that I’ve referenced before.  Military security, without energy security in Poland isn’t a full security context for the people of Poland. Energy security without military security is not a fully complementary energy context for the people of Poland. That is what we are trying to advance today with this nuclear power memorandum of understanding that Westinghouse signed. And so Rob and Ryan have joined me as colleagues, and they will also take part in this press conference. And they’ll jump in and answer questions as needed and as they can offer information, because we want to be fully transparent with the people of Poland regarding what this multibillion dollar project means to you, and means to your children and their children. With that, thank you.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: First question for PAP.

Wojciech Krzykowski, PAP: Wojciech from Polish Press Agency. Mr. Ambassador, you have just mentioned in your speech before the sum of $10 million.  What does it exactly mean? Is that $10 million of financing offered by the US government.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you, PAP, for that question. I want to emphasize that the financing dimension for this project is still being worked out and is evolving. And I’m pleased to say that our Export Import Bank is looking at different alternatives to be as supportive as possible on this project and financing, obviously, for a multi billion dollar project that pertains to the infrastructure future of your country is so important. Well, the multibillion dollar figure that you gave pertains to the choice of technology. And it also pertains to the multi year construction of the projects. And this project will create 1000s of jobs 1000s of jobs in America, and 1000s of jobs in Poland. And that is so important to me, as an American of Polish descent, “polskie pochodzenie,” that Polish people also learn and develop their competence, their competence about nuclear technology, their competence about construction of this most sophisticated infrastructure, because the country is poised. Poland is poised to be a regional partner and a regional leader in civil nuclear technology. And your people have such a good opportunity to participate in this industry, as this project germinates in Poland. Ryan and Rob, could you add to that, please?

Ryan Bowles, State Department: The United States government stands ready to assist in the financing of this project. We want to be a partner with Poland. We want to participate in bringing this project to life. The US government has huge experience in financing infrastructure around the world. And it is a very natural fit.

Robert Rudich, U.S. Embassy: I mean, it really is a very easily financeable project. And as has been said we fully hope to participate from a government capacity in this.  To build on what the ambassador said about jobs and regional jobs in this, certainly you have representatives from Westinghouse here.  They can tell you about some of the other AP 1000 projects that are being looked at throughout the region Poland is a first mover here. So as these other countries throughout the region look to build these plants, they’re going to be looking to the companies that were in the room today for the experience and the expertise to help deliver those reactors. And that’s an incredible opportunity that’s going to last for decades and decades after these reactors are up and running.

Ambassador Brzezinski: And to add to what Brian and Rob said, I served as US Ambassador to Sweden for four years. Sweden is one fourth the size, population wise, of Poland, and it has 12, safe, climate friendly nuclear power plants. I visited one of those when I was Chief of Mission, when I was ambassador, in Sweden. And you have to ask yourself, I think the people at home have to ask themselves, why you don’t have any nuclear power plants now. It is imperative – I say this, as a friend of Poland – it is imperative that you have a secure energy future for your children and their children. And I cannot think of a better alternative, given the climate requirements, given the cost requirements than civil nuclear power, and the Westinghouse technology.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: Next question for Polsat. Please.

Miroslaw Majeran: If Poland takes Westinghouse technology, how long will it take to have the first nuclear plant in Poland?

Robert Rudich, U.S. Embassy: Thank you. So the first reactor would be scheduled to be in operation by 2033.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: Next question for TVN.

Bartlomiej Slak, TVN: Hello. Bartek Slak from TVN. I want to ask about these Polish companies, which signed this document today? Why are they so important in this project? And what are they going to be responsible for? Specifically?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you so much for that question. It is imperative that Polish companies be part of this project. Because this project will be profitable. This project will share technology, will share best practices, will share safety processes, and will share an understanding that will be part of our global future for generations. And I want Poland and Polish people to be part of that. Because ultimately, it may be your people that are building in the future. It’ll be your people who are innovating in the future. I mean, Poland is the land of Marie Curie Sklodowska, of Copernicus, this is a land of tremendous innovation, including in nuclear power. So as we build this project here, and as I have said directly to every single one of your top leaders, every single one of them, Polish companies must take part of this, because edifying, in other words, teaching each other, in terms of what we know and what we need to innovate, is part of a partnership. It’s a little bit like when Poland buys Abrams tanks, and I’ve spoken directly with the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, about this, the training, the sharing of best practices, the exercises are so much part of the partnership. And the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, said to me, he said, “Mark, don’t let the Poles miss that chance.” And so I say to you the same thing when it comes to nuclear technology. Your companies are the soldiers in this. They’re the ones who can learn how to do this, and to contribute how to do this better. So that Poland is poised to be a regional leader in civil nuclear power, in which there is tremendous opportunity, in which there is tremendous profitability, and in which there is tremendous possibility for the next generation. That is what we’re investing in. And I can’t think of a better direction to invest in than in the next generation. Can you gentlemen, add anything, please? Let me know if you’d like to join in.

Wojciech Jakubik, So the question was about what types of companies and why.  So whether you’re talking about Mostostal Krakow, with their capabilities to do some of our structural modules that are part of our modular construction; whether you’re talking about (…) and engineering services, we’re looking for a variety of both services and manufacturing capabilities that Poland is known to be able to produce on quality basis.  As Westinghouse, we opened an office in Krakow last year, and we have 150 people serving our other clients, not serving this potential client, serving global worldwide clients for Westinghouse.  Why did we choose Krakow? Why did we choose Poland? Because of the people, their abilities, and the overall cost profile – when you look at it very high quality work. So I’m excited to be able to work with a variety across equipment and services companies here in Poland.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: Next question for TVP. No question? Energetyka 24.

Jakub Wiech, TVP: Hello. Jakub Wiech, Energetyka 24.  I have a question. Could you please disclose the details of offsets that are included in the American offer, and is it true that the Polish side has a deadline of 30 days to make a decision over the American offer?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, we’re hoping the Council of Ministers takes action as quickly as possible. Speed is our friend in terms of energy security. Speed is our friend in terms of the collaboration between our governments.  There’s the highest level interest in this on both sides. But part of this has to be about action, making a decision and then getting to work to get the technology selected and to get moving on the construction of this. We don’t have any time to wait. We’ve seen the energy context now. We see its impact in a number of different ways. It is in our collective self interest to get underway as soon as possible. Rob, can you add in terms of the … ?

Robert Rudich, U.S. Embassy: The real importance is that we do get started.  The agreement signed between the United States and Poland, of course it’s online available for everyone to read, it has a 30 day requirement that countries accept the concept execution or don’t accept it – but to give their decision within 30 days, but as the ambassador said, we really want to deliver this project in 2033, or even sooner.  That’s a monumental undertaking, and we have the best companies in the world for this: Westinghouse and Bechtel, but we need to get working. So if we allow this decision to go on for additional weeks and months, the impact is the timeline of the project and the impact is the energy security of Poland.

Ambassador Brzezinski: And, you know, the great thing about Poland is that there’s so much great science, there’s so much understanding of engineering and understanding of technology ingrained in the people of Poland.  When I was in the private sector, I would go out to Silicon Valley, and just the number of coders, the number of innovators out there, who were from Poland, was striking to me, striking.  This will be the largest civilian engineering, technology cooperation between our two countries in history. And it’s not for something tangential. It’s not for something marginal. It’s about powering your people and then ultimately becoming a regional leader in nuclear power plant technology.  That is critical for your future, and for me, one of the most important undertakings that the American Polish friendship could have right now.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: Do we have other questions?

Wojceich Jakubik, Okay, Wojciech Jakubik, I’d like to ask about two things. First one is what is the exceptionality of your technology from Westinghouse? Why is it different from EDF or KHNP? And the second part is about the financing scheme when it comes to cooperation with Poland. How would you convince Poles to take your offer not the other from the French or from the Koreans?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you for that question. What is exceptional about the Westinghouse technology? It’s been implemented. We’ve done this. We’ve successfully administered safe nuclear power plants. There’s 55 nuclear power plants underway now in the United States. We have learned what works. We have learned what is safe because it is imperative of course, for us to keep our own people safe. So this is the best of the best, which brings me to safely. Nuclear power is something that must and absolutely will be safe for people. And our safety protocols, Westinghouse’s safety protocols are the best of the best. And for that, and I really mean this, for that there can be no corner cutting. There can be no corner cutting for the people of Poland, when it comes to safety, and also the delivery of energy. And that is something that we will deliver as well. And it’s based on experience. It’s based on building at home. It’s based on building abroad as well.

Wojceich Jakubik, So if you look at our technology, it’s the only one of the three that’s a passive safety. What that means is it uses thermodynamics, natural recirculation in the Earth’s atmosphere to remove heat, we don’t have to have pumps. As an example, I won’t compare it to the other two reactors,  but I’ll compare to our own reactor. In Slovenia, we have a third of the pumps, a third of the pipe, a third of the valves that we have in that reactor. And what you see from that in the IAEA numbers, International Atomic Energy Agency numbers in 2021, the AP 1000s around the world average 92.5% uptime capacity. You can look up the competitors numbers; it’s the best in the industry. It’s also the safest in the industry.

Robert Rudich, U.S. Embassy: If I can just add as well, we’re talking about a proven, advanced passive reactor technology that is operating. That in itself is unique. But the American commitment to safety is not just verbal; it is action. The US nuclear regulatory commission is fully engaged in this process. We have Polish regulators in the United States right now training with the US NRC, going out to see an AP 1000 being built so they can get hands on experience on how to safely regulate this reactor. And that is something that we are uncompromising about, as the ambassador said, and we are committed to putting our words into action and making sure that this information gets transferred, and that the “know how” is there to do this the right way.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Again, we can’t be part of something that’s unsafe. And that’s why, as Rob said, Polish regulators are in the United States right now, learning about best practices. And that’s a metaphor that this kind of cooperation will produce, the sharing of best practices, the sharing of technology and so forth. You also asked about financing. The Export Import Bank is working on financing options right now. Everyone is thinking through what is the best, most fair way to cut this deal. Rob, can you add to that a little bit more?

Ryan Bowles, State Department: Well, with respect to financing, I would just say that, I think we have a great financial offer.  We’ve cooperated and collaborated with our colleagues in the Polish government and with the client to come up with options that make sense. The offer that we’ve made in our concept execution report to the government of Poland is comprehensive.  It’s signable. It’s doable.  That the project is doable today, based upon the financial offer that we’ve made.

Wojceich Jakubik, Do you have options in sight or some final proposal?

Ryan Bowles, State Department: The final part of it has to be negotiated over.  The concept is a complete concept; it’s not a partial concept.

Wojceich Jakubik, Okay, thank you very much.

Jonathan Cebra, U.S. Embassy: Any more questions, or shall we wrap it up? Thank you so much, everyone.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you for coming today.