Diplomatic Negotiations to Build a Winning Coalition to Negotiate with Iran

How the P5+1 achieved a breakthrough negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons development program

By on / International Negotiation

The meeting of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) and Iran in January 2016 to discuss Iran’s nuclear ambitions ended on a positive note but left many analysts skeptical of the possibility for substantive change.

Program on Negotiation faculty member James K. Sebenius, writing for Foreign Policy, analyzed the various positions of the P5+1 and Iran and offered an assessment of the various behind-the-table actors and their interests as well as the interests of external actors and groups not a party to the negotiations, but very much influential in the direction of their course.


Click here to download your copy of International Negotiations: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives from
 the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Professor Sebenius delivered praise for the Obama administration’s launch of interim talks but thought the Obama administration had not effectively conveyed the benefits of a comprehensive deal. An understanding of these benefits that could transform skeptics in Iran into willing supporters. Professor Sebenius suggested a targeted “campaign” that would emphasize the value of a comprehensive agreement.

In addition to bringing skeptics to the table, the strategy to build a “winning coalition” would consider “deal blockers” – those who would act to prevent meaningful concessions and thus stop negotiators from accomplishing their goals. In order to lessen the risk of “deal drift,” the P5+1 could set hard deadlines for reaching an agreement.

To read Professor Sebenius’ in-depth analysis and suggestions for the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators, please read his article here on the Foreign Policy website.

Related International Negotiation Article: A Temporary Agreement with Iran – Read in detail how the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia plus Germany) arrived at a temporary agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear arms development program. What negotiation strategies or techniques did the P5+1 use to bring Iran to a negotiated agreement? What insights does this provide for negotiators – whether in business or elsewhere?


Click here to download your copy of International Negotiations: Cross-Cultural Communication Skills for International Business Executives from
 the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Originally published in 2012.

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