The position to be filled by Dennis Ross has been described as special envoy on Iran. It will be broader than that. His portfolio reportedly will include the full range of issues that are raised by Iran. On the nuclear file, it will include aspects pertaining to Russia, China, the EU, the Gulf states, and Israel. On the terror issue, it will include Iran's support for the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Iran is a major player in Iraq, involving both the insurgency and political negotiations within and among political parties. And Iran has an effect on Syria-Israeli peace negotiations. Ross will not be responsible for Arab-Israeli peace issues; there will be another envoy for that. But his assignment will include dealing with many of the same players (notably Israel), insofar as they are connected to the Iran issue.

Ross' appointment was announced to the Trustees of his current employer, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, according to the Nelson Report, the Financial Times, and the Washington Times. The announcement said Ross "accepted an invitation to join the Obama administration as ambassador-at-large" in a job "designed especially for him," covering a range of issues from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Iran. But he "will not reprise his previous role as special Arab-Israeli peace envoy, a post that will be held by someone else; rather he will be working closely with both the special envoy and the secretary."