United States President-elect Joe Biden has nominated a key negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to be the US’s next deputy secretary of state, the second-highest position at the State Department.
In a statement on Saturday, Biden unveiled a string of State Department nominees, including longstanding diplomat Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state.
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Sherman, a professor and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, served as under secretary of state for political affairs for four years during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice president.
“She has successfully rallied the world to strengthen democracy and confront some of the biggest national security challenges of our time, including leading the U.S. negotiating team for the Iran Deal,” the statement said.
— Wendy R. Sherman (@wendyrsherman) January 16, 2021
Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has promised to return to the accord under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.
President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as he pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against the Iranian government.
The Trump administration has hit Tehran with a wide array of sanctions and tensions between the two countries have increased amid a torrent of hostile rhetoric and actions in the final weeks of the Republican president’s time in office.
In mid-December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was not necessarily “excited” for Biden to take office, but that it was “very happy” to see Trump’s presidency end. “We are not very excited with Biden coming, but we are very happy with Trump going,” Rouhani said.
Meanwhile, Biden on Saturday also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top US diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be under secretary for political affairs.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state.