By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state, the number two position at the department.
The Senate backed the nomination by 56-42, as a handful of Republicans joined Biden’s fellow Democrats to vote in Sherman’s favor.
Sherman, 71, a foreign policy veteran, ran into Republican resistance because she helped negotiate the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, which was fiercely opposed by Republicans as well as some Democrats.
Former Republican President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in 2018. The agreement has unraveled as Iran breached its limits on nuclear enrichment and Trump re-imposed sanctions.
But the Biden administration has sought to re-engage and Iran and world powers last week held what they described as “constructive” talks to salvage the accord.
The issue was complicated when Iran said on Tuesday it will start enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move bringing the fissile material closer to levels suitable for a bomb, after accusing Israel of sabotaging a nuclear installation.
Israel’s government opposed the nuclear pact.
Sherman had promised a new approach on Iran at her March confirmation hearing, noting that the world has changed since the pact was implemented in 2016.
Dealings with Iran must “be decided on the merits of where we are today, not nostalgia for what might have been,” Sherman said.
Sherman was State Department counselor from 1997 to 2001, when she was also policy coordinator on North Korea. From 1993 to 1996 she served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.
(Reporting by Patricia ZengerleEditing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)