Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

In a floor speech honoring the nation's federal employees, Sen. Kaufman recognizes Nicole Nelson-Jean for her work as negotiator on nuclear proliferation issues for the Department of Energy.

September 30, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I rise once again to recognize the service of one of America's great Federal employees.

In recent months, President Obama has spoken of his vision of a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. While nuclear disarmament remains a long-term project, there are important steps already being taken right now toward that goal.

The public servant I will speak about today has already distinguished herself as a top-notch negotiator on nuclear proliferation issues for the Department of Energy.

When Nicole Nelson-Jean was just 28 years old, she led a delegation of Energy Department negotiators in an effort to secure Russian nuclear materials in Siberia. Based out of our Embassy in Tokyo, Nicole had to overcome the skepticism of her Russian counterparts, who were not accustomed to negotiating with someone her age. Remember, she was 28. But she quickly won their respect and developed a working relationship that enabled them to move forward on technical assistance and create a joint training and service center in the Russian Arctic for securing nuclear material.

After this achievement, Nicole was made director of the Department of Energy's Asia Office. She distinguished herself in that position for 2 years, also serving concurrently as energy attaché to our ambassador in Japan.

In 2006, Nicole was tapped to head the Global Threat Reduction Initiative for North and South America which runs projects in over 90 countries to remove radiological material from nuclear reactors and reconfigures them from processing weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to those processing the type used for peaceful purposes.

Following her success in that role, Nicole was appointed to serve as Director of the United States Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria. While there, she helped secure passage of the IAEA's Nuclear Security Resolution, which is now the central international statute used to prevent nuclear terrorism.

When asked about her work as a public servant, Nicole said: ``Personally, I don't think that there's anything more important than the national security of our country,'' and that ``service is in my blood.''

Earlier this summer, Nicole returned to the United States to begin a 10-month program at the National Defense University as a counter-terrorism fellow.

She is just one of countless Federal employees who, even though they are highly educated and experienced, continue to immerse themselves academically in their career fields.

As I have stated before from this desk, our Federal employees combine great intellect and a passion for service. The result is a Federal workforce that excels.

Without Nicole and those like her, our government could not carry out the policies, such as nuclear arms control, that keep the American people safe and free.

I call on my fellow Senators to join me in thanking Nicole Nelson-Jean and all the outstanding men and women of the Department of Energy for their contribution to our Nation.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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