Applications Invited for Advancing Nuclear Safety, Security, and Nonproliferation through the FIRST Program
Organization: U.S Department of State, Bureau of International Security-Nonproliferation
Apply By: 31 Jan 2024
Grant Amount: 250000 USD
About the Organization
The Department of State advises the President and leads the nation in foreign policy issues. The State Department negotiates treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and represents the United States at the United Nations.
Our Mission: To protect and promote U.S. security, prosperity, and democratic values and shape an international environment in which all Americans can thrive.
About the Grant
The Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction (ISN/CTR) is pleased to announce an open competition for assistance awards through this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). ISN/CTR sponsors foreign assistance activities funded by the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) and other accounts, and focuses on mitigating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD-related delivery systems proliferation and security threats from non-state actors and proliferator states. An underlying aim of all ISN/CTR’s efforts is long-term sustainability to maximize programmatic impact while minimizing the need for foreign partners to rely on outside financial or technical assistance.
ISN/CTR administers the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology Program (FIRST), which was announced by the White House at the Leaders’ Climate Summit in April 2021. FIRST provides technical capacity-building support to potential nuclear energy newcomer countries and current nuclear energy countries that are considering small modular reactors (SMRs) and other advanced reactor designs to meet their clean energy needs, consistent with the highest international standards of nuclear security, nonproliferation, and safety. FIRST is designed to enhance U.S. bilateral and multilateral cooperation, consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) nuclear energy infrastructure development milestones approach, in nuclear energy infrastructure development, nuclear security, and capacity-building. In so doing, the program supports secure, safe, and proliferation-resistant deployment of SMRs or other advanced reactors to partner countries.
Recognizing the many years required to develop the necessary infrastructure to support a nuclear power program, FIRST provides essential capacity-building support and technical expertise to priority partner countries to advance the secure and responsible utilization of civilian nuclear reactors, especially SMRs and other advanced reactors. FIRST also seeks to mitigate the negative nuclear security and proliferation implications for potentially vulnerable states resulting from aggressive deployment of floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) being rushed to market by third countries before fundamental nuclear security, safeguards, regulatory, liability, and safety issues regarding this novel and unproven technology have been resolved by the international community.
In total, FIRST will implement two discrete lines of effort in FY23:
- As the primary focus, tailored capacity-building support for countries participating in FIRST, including both potential new FIRST partners and countries already engaged.
- As a secondary focus, capacity-building for littoral states at risk of negative nuclear security, proliferation, safety, liability, and sovereignty consequences resulting from aggressive deployment in at-risk regions of early-to-market floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) by third countries.
Priority Regions: FIRST prioritizes nuclear energy newcomer countries and, in some cases, current nuclear energy countries located primarily in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The FNPP-focused programming is primarily focused on partner countries in South and Southeast Asia and littoral states in Africa. As a U.S. foreign assistance program authorized to deliver nonproliferation capacity-building abroad, FIRST does not fund projects intended to advocate for nuclear energy to countries not currently exploring this option, to promote the U.S. nuclear industry, or to train personnel in U.S.-based institutions.
Program Objectives: ISN/CTR sponsors foreign assistance activities funded by the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) and other accounts, and focuses on mitigating proliferation and security risks from state and non-state actors.
In Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24), FIRST will fund activities that align with and support one or more of its two goals. Proposals should clearly indicate which of the two goals the work is intended to support. FIRST Goals:
- Empower potential nuclear energy newcomer countries to prioritize nuclear security, nonproliferation, and safety considerations from the outset when evaluating civil nuclear reactor technologies, with an emphasis on SMRs and other advanced reactor designs.
- Strengthen partner countries’ capacities to mitigate the nuclear security, proliferation, safety, liability, and sovereignty risks associated with aggressive deployment of earlyto-market FNPPs by third countries.
Participants and Audiences:
While global in scope, FIRST directs its efforts towards individual priority countries to maximize its programmatic impact. FIRST is primarily interested in engaging partner countries’ nuclear energy agencies, regulatory authorities, reactor operators, utilities, nuclear research institutes, technical and non-technical organization decision makers, energy, environmental, and foreign ministries, and academia (at the faculty level). Audiences for these activities may include, but are not limited to:
- Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Decision Makers: FIRST engages various policy makers in partner countries, including at senior levels, on paths forward for secure, sustainable, proliferation-resistant approaches to civil nuclear energy in their respective countries. This community may include officials from energy and environmental ministries, science ministries, finance ministries, foreign diplomats, university partners, and local officials in the context of capacity-building for FIRST.
- Government Operators, Regulators, and Security Personnel: FIRST engages operators, regulators, and security personnel to implement trustworthiness programs and programs that ensure the highest standards for nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.
- Technical Organization Decision Makers: To ensure the sustainability and success of FIRST engagement with operators, regulators, and security personnel, FIRST engages relevant decision makers and nuclear industry officials.
- Leveraging Technical and Other Expertise: FIRST incorporates experts from U.S. and international technical organizations, national laboratories, academia, and the nuclear industry in its training activities. FIRST seeks to incorporate lessons learned and best practices from the nuclear industry, but does not seek to promote nuclear energy to countries that are not considering it, nor to serve as a promotional vehicle for U.S. business interests or specific reactor vendors.
- Tailored Engagement Strategies: FIRST sponsors projects that are relevant to each partner country’s needs, capabilities, infrastructure, and regulatory environment. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, FIRST trainings are based on an understanding of technical and human capacity in each partner country, take cultural and policy considerations into account, and build upon past FIRST or other expert engagements.
- Utilizing Innovative Technology: To sustain developments made during in-country trainings and to provide consistent, regular support throughout project implementation, FIRST encourages the use of online training modules and virtual communication for capacity building.
- Concrete Impact: FIRST seeks to move beyond awareness-raising and toward adoption, implementation, and long-term sustainability of best practices. To accomplish this, FIRST is open to a variety of approaches, including leveraging private sector capabilities.
Proposals that provide specific and feasible approaches to sustainability, rather than platitudes or vague references, are highly encouraged.
The FIRST program engages with partners on nuclear security and sovereignty in an ongoing endeavor. To this end, ISN/CTR will evaluate each proposal, and each project during implementation, based on the strength of its proposed structure of engagement activities and established milestones, seeking work that will continue throughout the period of the project and utilize in-country activities where necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the ongoing training effort.
The following organizations are eligible to apply:
- Not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/nongovernmental organizations
- Public and private educational institutions
- Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs)
- For-profit organizations Public International Organizations and Governmental institutions
How to Apply
Applications are due no later than 31 January 2024 at 11:59pm (EDT).
All application materials must be submitted through www.Grants.gov unless you are a U.S. Government entity applying for Inter-Agency Agreement (IAA) funding. If you are applying for an IAA please submit proposals to the relevant program team and ISN-CTRBUDGET@state.gov.
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