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Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman up for deputy US secretary of state — report

Key architect of 2015 agreement will join Tony Blinken at State Department reunion of Obama administration officials, according to Politico

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2013, before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2013, before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Wendy Sherman, a chief US negotiator for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, will be nominated for the role of deputy US secretary of state under Joe Biden’s nominee for the secretary position, Tony Blinken, Politico reported Tuesday.

Currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and a professor of public leadership and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, Sherman served as undersecretary for political affairs in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2015.

She was initially a favorite to become Biden’s UN ambassador, a position he ended up giving to longtime diplomat and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Working with then-deputy secretary of state Blinken, Sherman was a key architect of the Iran nuclear deal, which exposed her to criticism from parts of the pro-Israel establishment in Washington.

Invoking her own Judaism, she has described the dissent the Obama administration faced over the multilateral accord from the American Jewish community as the most “painful” part of its efforts to push the deal through.

Then-US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, then-US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Robert Malley of the US National Security Council and European Union Political Director Helga Schmid wait before the start of a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday March 28, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

Sherman began her career in politics working as chief of staff for then-congresswoman Barbara Mikulski, a prominent pro-Israel voice on Capitol Hill until her retirement in 2017.

Biden is moving forward with plans to fill out his government even as Trump refuses to concede defeat, has pursued baseless legal challenges in several key states and has worked to stymie the transition process.

Blinken and Sherman will inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30 percent in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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