WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland says it has chosen the U.S. government and Westinghouse to build its first nuclear power plant, heralding a major step in its efforts to burn less coal and become more energy independent.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said late Friday that Poland’s nuclear power project will use Westinghouse Electric Company’s “reliable and safe technology,” saying a strong Polish-American alliance “guarantees the success of our joint initiatives.”

Poland has planned for years to build a nuclear power plant to gain greater energy independence and replace aging coal-fired power plants in a country with some of the worst levels of air pollution in Europe.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its use of energy as a tool amid a larger confrontation with the West have given greater importance to Poland’s search for energy alternatives.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Grenholm said the $40 billion project would create or preserve more than 100,000 jobs for American workers.

“This is a HUGE step in strengthening our relationship with Poland to create energy security for future generations. We are excited to continue this partnership to advance the clean energy transition with our colleagues in Europe,” Granholm tweeted.

“This statement also sends a clear message to Russia: we will not allow them to use energy as a weapon anymore,” Granholm said. “The West will stand together against this unprovoked aggression, while diversifying energy supply chains and strengthening climate cooperation.”

The deal is for the first three reactors of a nuclear power plant to be built in northern Poland, which officials say is due to start producing electricity in 2033. Poland also considered offers from France and South Korea.

The United States is one of the most important allies of Poland, a member of NATO. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it increased its military presence in the country, establishing a permanent presence for the first time and using Poland as a hub for sending weapons to Ukraine.

Public Assets Minister Jacek Sasin suggested South Korea could still play a role in the project, saying “this is not our last word” and that more talks on the major nuclear power project will be held in Seoul next week.

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