The New York Times reported today that Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it would not accept a plan to send to Russia its stock of low-enriched uranium (which it could use to build a nuclear weapon) in exchange for fuel rods only usable in its civilian nuclear facilities. Iranian negotiators had agreed to the plan last week.
This illustrates the importance of managing the final stage of a negotiation because “done deals” can sometimes unravel in a hurry if you aren’t careful. So what do I suggest you do, especially in business or legal negotiations?
First, confirm all oral commitments in writing as soon as they have been made. Keep a record of these. Second, get a ready-to-be-signed written agreement to your counterpart quickly and include a reasonable deadline for his or her signature. Also seriously consider adding an incentive to sign it by the deadline. Finally, don’t adversely affect your leverage, by extending a favorable deadline or postponing an arbitration, if you can reasonably get a signed, sealed and delivered deal done prior to the deadline.