Advancing Nuclear Safety, Security, and Nonproliferation through the FIRST Program

Funding Agency:
Department of State

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.

In total, FIRST will implement two discrete lines of effort in FY23:

1) As the primary focus, tailored capacity-building support for countries participating in FIRST, including both potential new FIRST partners and countries already engaged.

2) 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.

Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal package per organization. If more than one proposal package is submitted from an organization, all proposals from that institution may be considered ineligible for funding. Interested applicants from within Duke should contact as early as possible.


Deadline: Jan. 31, 2024

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

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.

Eligibility Requirements

The following organizations are eligible to apply: • Not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/non-governmental organizations • Public and private educational institutions • Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) • For-profit organizations Public International Organizations and Governmental institutions

Amount Description

Award amounts: awards may range from a minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of $250,000

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
International Opportunities
Social Sciences

External Deadline

January 31, 2024