Wendy Sherman confirmed as US deputy secretary of state

Foreign policy veteran served in several roles at the State Department under Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama

FILE PHOTO: Wendy Sherman arrives for a meeting on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva February 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
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Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, has been confirmed as deputy secretary of state.

On Tuesday, the US Senate voted 56-42, mostly along party lines, to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee for the number-two position at the State Department.

While the vote played out as expected, six Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah, voted in favour of Ms Sherman.

Ms Sherman, 71, is considered a foreign policy veteran, having served in several roles at the State Department under Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

But she was tapped to be Antony Blinken’s second in command for her work on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a major foreign policy achievement of former president Barack Obama that saw significant restrictions placed on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

In 2018, then-president Donald Trump withdrew from the pact, calling it a “disastrous deal".

Mr Biden has said he wants to revive the deal.

In the last few weeks, US and Iranian officials travelled to Vienna for indirect talks.

Ms Sherman's confirmation comes amid heightened tension between the two countries after Iran announced it would start enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity.

The move followed an attack at Iran's Natanz nuclear site, which has been blamed on Israel.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the move "provocative" and said it made the US question "Iran's seriousness with regard to the nuclear talks" that are set to resume this week.

In her March confirmation hearing, Ms Sherman acknowledged the way forward with Iran would be different than in 2015.

“I remain clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to our interests and those of our allies,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I would note that 2021 is not 2015 when the deal was agreed, nor 2016 when it was implemented. The facts on the ground have changed, [the region has] changed and the way forward must similarly change.”

Ms Sherman has served as under secretary of state for political affairs and prior to this, she served as a State Department counsellor from 1997 to 2001, working on policy co-ordination on North Korea. From 1993 to 1996, she served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.