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Cablegate: Support for Poland's Aspiring Nuclear Power Program

VZCZCXYZ0638
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWR #1029/01 2781423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051423Z OCT 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8997
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHOMB/OMB WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS WARSAW 001029

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR ISN/NESS, L-NPV, L-T, EUR/PRA AND S/EEE REBECA
NEFF; USTR FOR ELIZABETH BALTZAN AND JARED RAGLAND; OMB FOR
DAVID LEE; COMMERCE FOR HILLEARY SMITH AND STEVE CLAGGETT;
DOE/NNSA FOR HEATHER LOONEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ENRG EINV TRGY BEXP BTIO PL
SUBJECT: SUPPORT FOR POLAND'S ASPIRING NUCLEAR POWER PROGRAM

REF: A. WARSAW 1450
B. WARSAW 958

1. (SBU) Summary: The Polish government requests US
assistance in launching a nuclear power program. PM Tusk's
goal of generating nuclear power by 2020 is optimistic.
However, simultaneously meeting Poland's carbon emissions
commitments and addressing its energy security concerns will
require diversifying away from coal. Poland's public and
private sector leadership view nuclear as a vital piece of
that diversification, achievable in the medium-term. The
U.S. has an interest in seeing the GoP succeed in meeting its
climate change and energy security goals, but Poland lacks
the human capital to design and implement a nuclear program.
Polish officials have specifically asked for US assistance in
building that human capital. They would like to engage us
early in the process as they begin to draft legislation and
design regulatory infrastructure. End Summary.

Why Nuclear?
------------
2. (SBU) Poland's reliance on domestic coal for 95% of its
electricity insulates it somewhat from dependence on Russian
energy. At the same time, this dependence on coal puts
Poland at odds with EU-established emissions caps, which
favor imported (Russian) gas or other alternatives. Poland
will require huge investments in its outdated power sector in
the coming years regardless of the nuclear program; some 60%
of Poland's power plants are 25 years old or older. PM Tusk
has made nuclear power, along with LNG, his primary response
to solving Poland's energy-climate conundrum. Poland does
not have a substantial anti-nuclear movement. Opposition
party leaders including Law and Justice (PiS) energy experts
have so far limited their criticism to the effectiveness of
Tusk's energy policy implementation, and have generally been
silent or even supportive of Poland's move toward nuclear.

Next Steps Toward Implementation
--------------------------------
3. (SBU) Hanna Trojanowska's appointment by PM Tusk last May
as the new Commissioner for Nuclear Power signaled an
acceleration of efforts to launch the program. While most
analysts agree that the 2020 target Tusk announced last
January is too optimistic, the GOP is aggressively advancing
toward that goal. Trojanowska's new office in the Ministry
of Economy will spearhead efforts to create the required
legislative and regulatory infrastructure, and to build the
international partnerships Poland will need to get this off
the ground. Trojanowska is a technocrat who comes to the
Ministry from Poland's largest state-owned power generator,
Polish Energy Group (PGE), which has been tasked with
contracting construction and ultimately operating the planned
facilities.

4. (SBU) Trojanowska hopes to have regulatory legislation
drafted by the end of 2009. Chair of the Parliament's
Sub-Committee on Energy and member of the governing Civic
Platform (PO) party, Andzrej Czerwinski, is optimistic about
the prospects for passing that legislation in early 2010. He
contends that the government's "Energy Strategy Through 2030"
was long delayed because the government was building a
multi-party consensus to support the long-term commitment
needed to develop nuclear power, LNG, and other alternatives
to coal.

Poland Will Need Help
---------------------
5. (SBU) Trojanowska discussed the GOP's need for
international assistance at a recent informal meeting with
the US delegation to the GNEP working group on fuel cycles,
hosted in Warsaw the last week of September. One of her
early priorities is to secure governmental cooperation,
particularly with the U.S., including signing a Technical
Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC). While the Poles backed away
from an earlier request due to bureaucratic reorganizations,
they are now nearly ready to request a TIEA. They will also
look to the National Nuclear Safety Administration, the
Department of State, and the Department of Energy for
assistance in everything from fuel cycle planning to
structuring bids; however, their immediate priority is for
personnel exchanges, training, and general help building the
human capacity to develop a nuclear program. US industry
representatives agree that Poland will need assistance in
developing its regulatory capacity and have expressed concern
that without US collaboration, the Polish government may be
steered by a third country toward a particular technology or
industry partner.

Comment: Getting Started on Nuclear Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- --
6. (SBU) Poland has at various levels asked to increase
engagement with the U.S. on energy security and climate
change. Earlier discussions of these issues have become
bogged down in the details of Brussels negotiations or the
morass of competing Russia-oriented energy projects. In
contrast, support for Poland's nuclear program matches up
well with our broader commercial interests, climate/energy
security agenda, and fuel cycle and non-proliferation
concerns. It also provides an opening for tangible bilateral
cooperation on a genuine priority for PM Tusk. An
appropriately high-level invitation from US energy officials
to further discuss cooperation would crystallize Poland's
still vague request for help and directly respond to one of
Poland's top priorities.
TULLEY

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