Lead US Negotiator Analyzes Nuclear Talks

Lead US Negotiator Analyzes Nuclear Talks  Lead US Negotiator Analyzes Nuclear Talks

The lead US negotiator of Iran's nuclear deal provided insights about her counterparts during the negotiations at a recent public lecture.

Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs for the US Department of State, spoke at the Sanford School of Public Policy on Thursday night about her experience negotiating the deal, the Chronicle reported.  

During the talk titled "Negotiating Change: The Inside Story Behind the Iran Nuclear Deal—A Conversation with Ambassador Wendy Sherman," Sherman explored the negotiations from her perspective. Peter Feaver, professor of political science and public policy and the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy program, interviewed Sherman about the conditions that led to the deal, as well as the challenges of handling the Iranian negotiators.

In an interview with the Chronicle before the Ambassador Dave and Kay Phillips Family International Lecture, Feaver said Sherman had a unique perspective because she was able to speak face-to-face with Iranian diplomats for so long.

He added that since US laws and policies prevented American diplomats from meeting their Iranian counterparts, Sherman had more contact with the Iranian representatives than almost any other American diplomat.

Sherman stressed that two years of sanctions did not stop Iran's nuclear program, but that the election of President Hassan Rouhani is what finally brought Iran to the negotiating table.

"Rouhani was willing to talk to the US and open a secret line of communication to begin negotiations," Sherman explained.

Sherman also elaborated on her experiences working with the Iranian diplomats, saying that they were "tough, smart and legalistic negotiators" and emphasizing that the negotiations were not about building trust, but rather about monitoring Iran's nuclear program.

"The mistrust between the two countries is deep-seated," she explained, "and can be traced back to the United States' involvement in the 1953 coup d’état of the Iranian prime minister."

Despite doubts about whether President Barack Obama and the US would have been willing to resort to military options, Sherman said she wholeheartedly believes Obama would have used military force, if necessary.

"Diplomacy backed up by the potential for military force is a very powerful tool," Sherman said in an interview with the Chronicle before the lecture, adding that she thinks the Iran deal was the best alternative to military action that was on the table.

"I hope that the Iran deal will mean that young people … won't have to go to war," she said.