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Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Wendy Sherman also negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea under Bill Clinton [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 January, 2021

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Wendy Sherman will serve as deputy secretary of state in the Biden administration.
The lead US negotiator of the Iran nuclear accord and a battle-tested hawk on Russia were named on Saturday to top posts at President-elect Joe Biden's State Department, signaling a return to normal after Donald Trump's chaotic presidency.

Wendy Sherman, who brokered the Iran accord under Barack Obama and negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea under Bill Clinton, was named as deputy secretary of state.

Victoria Nuland, a former career diplomat best known for her robust support for Ukrainian protesters in the ouster of a Russian-aligned president, was nominated under secretary for political affairs - the State Department's third-ranking post in charge of day-to-day US diplomacy.

Biden said that the State Department nominees "have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory".

"I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America's global and moral leadership. America is back," Biden said in a statement.

The State Department team will work under secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken, whose confirmation hearing will take place on Tuesday on the eve of Biden's inauguration.

Blinken said that the State Department team, with women and ethnic minorities in prominent positions, "looks like America".

"America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others to meet the challenges of our time," Blinken said.

The optimism comes amid rising doubts about US leadership in Trump's waning days after his supporters ransacked the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop the ceremonial certification of Biden's victory.

Under outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch defender of Trump, the United States has aggressively challenged Iran and China, robustly backed Israel and toyed with improving ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while also imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Sherman's nomination marks another clear sign that Biden wants to return to the accord under which Iran drastically slashed its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.

Trump exited the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions in what many observers saw as an unsuccessful attempt to topple the clerical regime.

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