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Payam Mohseni

Mailing address

124 Mt. Auburn Street Suite 100, Room 108A
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Mailbox 126
Cambridge, MA, 02138


Payam Mohseni

Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

Telephone: 617-495-4793



Payam Mohseni is Inaugural Director of the Belfer Center's Iran Project and Fellow for Iran Studies at the Center. He is also a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

Mohseni’s research focuses on the internal policymaking process of the Iranian state and the dynamics of factional politics in post-revolutionary Iran. Previously, Mohseni was a Research Fellow with the Belfer Center's International Security Program. Before that, he was a Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and a member of the Iran Study Group at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, and he obtained a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in Conflict, Security, and Development from the Department of War Studies at King's College London.



By Date



October 2015

Disrupting the Chessboard


By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

Various narratives explaining Russia’s recent decision haveemerged which portray Russia alternatively as attempting tore-establish its role as a world empire or as a power-balancerprotecting its interests in the Middle East. This publicationaims to present different scholarly perspectives and viewpointson Russian objectives in Syria and the implications it holds forworld politics. It does so by gathering the opinions of severalexperts with different backgrounds and analytic viewpointsfrom across the world.



August 13, 2015

Iran and the Arab World after the Nuclear Deal


By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 presents significant implications for the future order of the Middle East. Just how it will impact that order remains uncertain. Will it shift Iranian foreign policy toward greater cooperation and reconciliation or produce greater Iranian regional empowerment and aggressiveness?

This report helps answer these and related questions. It includes views from leading experts in the Arab world to assess the impact of the nuclear agreement on Iran-Arab security relations.



Fall/Winter 2014-15

Payam Mohseni: Q&A

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

In this Q&A, Belfer Center Communications Director Josh Burek asks Payam Mohseni about the Center's new Iran Project which he directs and about the potential for increased U.S.-Iranian cooperation.



(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

October 6, 2014

"Bad Move, ISIS: Why America and Iran Should Work Together"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

"While a threat to U.S. interests, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) presents us with a unique opportunity to 'reset' the Middle East equation—to actively transform regional relations, to abate the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to forge a new working relationship with Iran," writes Payam Mohseni. "As the United States moves to escalate its war against ISIS and forge a coalition against the terrorist group, it is important that Iran be included in the process. After all, U.S. and Iranian interests have increasingly converged in the Middle East with the emergence of a common enemy, and no power in the region is better suited to taking on ISIS than Iran and its affiliated Shi’a militias in Iraq."



June 23, 2014

Payam Mohseni Named Inaugural Director of Belfer Center's Iran Project


By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

Payam Mohseni, visiting assistant professor of Iranian and Middle East politics at Harvard University, has been named Iran Project Director and Fellow for Iran Studies at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.



AP Photo

June 16, 2014

"ISIS Challenge in Iraq: Why America Should Work with Iran"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

"The U.S. should seize the opportunity presented by the Iraq crisis to reach out and engage Iran. The threat posed by ISIS and radical jihadism as well as the potential for further regional instability represent important areas of mutual strategic concern for both countries. By engaging the Iranians, the U.S. will gain the critical ability to shape the course of events without getting bogged down in the conflict. It will also help the U.S. build a working relationship with Iran that could ease the current nuclear negotiations forward and lay the groundwork for future cooperation when a successful deal is reached."



Morteza Ansari Photo

November 20, 2013

"Make No Mistake, America: Sanctions Didn't Force Iran into Nuclear Talks"

Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor

By Payam Mohseni, Director of Iran Project and Fellow of Iran Studies

"...[S]anctions played a part in changing Iran's behavior, but not because they forced Iran to return to the negotiation table out of fear of economic collapse. Rather, sanctions contributed to a transformation of the balance of power within the Iranian political system that had been already underway since 2009 — prior to the enactment of the current sanctions regime. Sanctions helped pave the way for a Rouhani victory in the 2013 presidential elections..."

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.