The PJ Tatler

Lead U.S. Nuke Negotiator with Iran Leaving State Department

The lead U.S. negotiator at the table with Iran in the P5+1 nuclear talks is leaving the State Department.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman traveled to Vienna yesterday to resume negotiations, and will meet Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Saturday for additional talks with the Iranians.

The fourth-ranking official in the State Department will be out the door after the June 30 nuclear deadline.

Sherman was an adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2008 campaign, and the former secretary of State appointed her old supporter to her current State Department post in 2011. Sherman’s history in Democratic Party politics includes running the pro-abortion rights lobbying group EMILY’s List.

“As the secretary has said, Undersecretary Sherman has been an absolutely critical member of his team, in particular in the work spearheading the nuclear negotiations with Iran, but also on nearly every other important issue in the department,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters today. “She has close relations and collaboration with her P5+1 and E.U. counterparts. They’ve been instrumental in enabling us to reach the interim agreement that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and makes our partners and allies and our world safer.”

“So, you know, she’s gonna stay on through the completion of the talks. I don’t have a lot more to add to motivation.”

Asked if now is the right time to be leaving, Rathke said “one of the things that Undersecretary Sherman has made a point of doing is to mentor colleagues and to build a large and strong U.S. negotiating team, which encompasses experts from across the U.S. government and within the State Department as well.”

“So, if we are successful in concluding a final deal, we’ll move into a new phase of implementation and monitoring,” he said. “And, you know, this team that Undersecretary Sherman has put together and has led over these last couple of years will continue to track Iran’s nuclear program if we get to a deal and they’ll be joined by others across this government.”

Of that June 30 deadline: “We’re not contemplating an extension.”