Tag Archives: Tehran

Afarin Sajedi’s Portraits of Women Redefine Strength

These colorful, sometimes discomforting portraits by Tehran-based artist Afarin Sajedi present a unique image of strength.

They are the many faces and mixed emotions of modern Iranian women, particularly the pain and joy felt upon leaving the safe walls of home.

She is heavily inspired by Heinrich Boll’s Clown, seen in her use of makeup, while Gustav Klimt’s color palette strongly influences her use of agressive colors like red.

This is also evident in her subject’s costumes worn similarly to traditional hijab headwear.

Some replace their hijab with helmets and plastic bags, while others express themselves by piercing their skin with utensils.

No matter how they are outfitted,  Sajedi’s women hold onto their bold spirit underneath.

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Lavrov, Kerry To Hold Vienna Talks On June 30

Sergei Lavrov (left) did not give any information on what ground would be covered in his talks with John Kerry on June 30.

Russia’s foreign minister will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on June 30.

Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on June 29 that he will soon depart for Vienna for the talks.

He did not give any details about the discussions.

Kerry and the foreign ministers of Iran, Britain, France, and Germany are in Vienna, together with officials from the European Union, Russia, and China, for talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Those talks face a June 30 deadline, but top officials have said there could be an extension “for a few days.”

The goal of the talks is an agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The six powers want limits on Tehran’s programs that could have a military use. Tehran denies it is pursuing such weapons.

Take A Ride On A New Luxury Train From Hungary To Iran Where A Ticket Costs Up To $40,000

Budapest13

A new luxury train that runs from Hungary’s capital of Budapest to Iran’s capital of Tehran made its first trip on Wednesday, Reuters reports. 

The first branch of the route, connecting Budapest to Istanbul, follows the path of the world famous Orient Express, the early-20th century trip that used to carry Europe’s aristocracy to Turkey.

The new luxury train cars ride on existing railways, leaving from Budapest, heading east toward Turkish Kurdistan and dumping passengers in Iran. A ticket for the two-week trip costs more than $14,000, according to Reuters. 

The route is operated by the private travel agency Golden Eagle, a British company that offers trips on luxury trains across Europe, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. The first train left on Oct. 15, the next one is scheduled for March next year.

The trip covers a total of 4,350 miles across five countries.

The trip covers a total of 4,350 miles across five countries.

The train left Budapest on Wednesday, Oct. 15. Everything from staffs’ uniforms to the design of the cars harkens back to the beginning of the 20th century.

The train left Budapest on Wednesday, Oct. 15. Everything from staffs' uniforms to the design of the cars harkens back to the beginning of the 20th century.

When the first convoy left Budapest, there was even a marching band to salute it.

When the first convoy left Budapest, there was even a marching band to salute it.

The basic ticket costs $14,333, but if you want extras like a private bathrooms and concierge service, the price can shoot up to $40,000, according to Reuters.

The basic ticket costs $14,333, but if you want extras like a private bathrooms and concierge service, the price can shoot up to $40,000, according to Reuters.

Despite the hefty price, the founder of Golden Eagle, Tim Littler, told Reuters that tickets sold out in 10 days.

Despite the hefty price, the founder of Golden Eagle, Tim Littler, told Reuters that tickets sold out in 10 days.

The company had to set up an Australian affiliate in order to apply and obtain travel permits in five different countries, including Iran.

The company had to set up an Australian affiliate in order to apply and obtain travel permits in five different countries, including Iran.

The trip is the vision of two English businessmen: Littler and Howard Trinder, who bought four rail cars from a Hungarian postal service, Reuters said. Refurbishing each car cost $1 million.

The trip is the vision of two English businessmen: Littler and Howard Trinder, who bought four rail cars from a Hungarian postal service, Reuters said. Refurbishing each car cost $1 million.

The dining car is furnished with intimate two-seats tables. Outstanding scenery from the windows is a plus.

The dining car is furnished with intimate two-seats tables. Outstanding scenery from the windows is a plus.

The train also have a full staff of waiters and chefs to accomodate all passenger requests.

The train also have a full staff of waiters and chefs to accomodate all passenger requests.

The piano bar is where passengers can enjoy the vintage atmosphere over a drink while listening to music.

The piano bar is where passengers can enjoy the vintage atmosphere over a drink while listening to music.

For those who prefer a quieter time, the train has private lecture rooms and sofas.

For those who prefer a quieter time, the train has private lecture rooms and sofas.

For an authentic experience, the train is still powered by a coal engine. It doesn’t move very fast.

For an authentic experience, the train is still powered by a coal engine. It doesn't move very fast.

Luxury train travel normally costs between $1,000 and $2,000 a day according to Reuters, meaning the Golden Eagle train is actually sold at an average price. Any interest?

Luxury train travel normally costs between $1,000 and $2,000 a day according to Reuters, meaning the Golden Eagle train is actually sold at an average price. Any interest?

First-ever European luxury train to set off Iran journey

The first European private train to enter Iran will make a two-week journey from Budapest to Tehran in October. The first “Golden Eagle-Danube Express” train, which comprises 13 lavishly-decorated wood-paneled 1950s carriages and berths for about 70 guests, will set off from Budapest on October 15.

The two-week trip will cross Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and take passengers through the ancient Iranian cities of Shiraz and Persepolis before reaching the capital Tehran.

With ticket prices of between 10,000 and 23,000 euros ($13,000-31,000) per person, guests will receive “five-star” treatment, its brochure said.

“Iran has been opening up towards the West recently, so we thought the time was right to set this up,” Marcella Beke, sales director of the “Nostalgia” branch of the Hungarian state-owned rail operator told AFP.

All the berths on the maiden journey have already been snapped up, mostly by British and Australian passengers, Beke added.

“Nostalgia fans needn’t panic, another five trips are scheduled for 2015,” she said.

Iran And Russia Are Forming A New Espionage Alliance Aimed At The US And Israel

putin rouhani russia iran

Given the difficult, indeed parlous, relationship between many Western states and both Russia and Iran, any collaboration between Moscow and Tehran is an important factor for Western capitals to consider.

While relations between the Iranian revolutionary regime and the Kremlin have often been poor and sometimes actively hostile, there has been a detectable warming in recent years as the Russians and Iranians find themselves on the same side in bloody wars in Syria and Iraq.

An indication of how cozy things are getting between Moscow and Tehran came this week with a visit to Iran by Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s National Security Council, who met with Iranian counterparts to discuss mutual threats.

As Patrushev explained, “Iran has been one of Russia’s key partners in the region and it will remain so in future … [we] have similar and close views on many key regional issues and we had a serious exchange of views on the situation in Syria, Iraq and Libya.”

But this was not just a diplomatic gab fest.

Patrushev is a career intelligence officer and one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest confidants. A Brezhnev-era counterintelligence officer with the Leningrad KGB (just like Putin), Patrushev served as head of the powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) from 1999 to 2008, leaving that position to take over the National Security Council.

Patrushev has all the hardline anti-Western views one would expect from a devoted Chekist. In a recent interview, he explained that the West, and especially the United States, are behind a comprehensive plot to destroy Russia through nefarious diplomatic and economic means.

Patrushev, stating explicitly that Russia and America are again in a Cold War, blamed Washington, DC, for the wars in Chechnya and Ukraine, adding that, through international economic institutions, the Americans destroyed Yugoslavia and plan to do the same to Russia. He cited alleged US/NATO plans for the “dismemberment of our country.”

I’m sure Patrushev and the Iranians saw eye-to-eye on a great many things when they sat down to chat. Of greatest importance is the new intelligence cooperation agreement between Moscow and Tehran that Patrushev nailed down during his visit.

The main agenda item is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the countries’ national security councils, which was signed this week. This is the vehicle for increased intelligence sharing between Russia and Iran.

While this relationship will focus heavily on issues of mutual concern in the Middle East and Central Asia, Russian media reports make clear that this is the beginning of a strategic intelligence partnership.

Although Russian and Iranian intelligence, once bitter enemies, signed a limited memo of understanding back in 2001 focusing on counterterrorism, that document led to little actual cooperation. The wars in Syria and Iraq, however, have changed things.

Last year, the two interior ministries agree to cooperate on police intelligence matters. Now, however, a full intelligence alliance has been agreed to as well.

As a Russian report on Patrushev’s visit explained:

The events in Syria and Iraq, where contacts between the Russian and Iranian special services have not only been resumed but have also proven their mutually advantageous nature, particularly in assessing the threats and plans of local bandit formations, both “secular” and Islamist, with respect to Russian facilities in Tartus in Syria, have impelled Moscow and Tehran to the idea of the need to formalize these contacts in the shape of a permanently operating mechanism.

Russian special services also valued the volume of information, voluntarily conveyed by Iran to our specialists, on the potential activity of the Israeli Air Force against the Russian humanitarian convoys to Syria in the period of the sharp aggravation of the situation in that country in the summer of last year.

Let there be no doubt that this new espionage alliance is aimed directly at the United States and Israel.

As the report added, “the Iranians are prepared to provide Russia on a permanent basis with information on American military activity in the Persian Gulf obtained from their own technical intelligence facilities.” In other words, the Russians and Iranians will be sharing SIGINT, the most sensitive of all forms of intelligence gathering.

Relations between Putin’s Russia and revolutionary Iran have been warming up in recent years on all fronts — diplomatic, economic, and military — and now there’s an important intelligence dimension too.

Given the power and long reach of the intelligence services of both Iran and Russia, this is a development that should cause serious concern in Western capitals as well as many in the Middle East.

Iranian intelligence helping Iraq and Syria tackle Islamic State

The Magshimim program
Islamic State flags flutter on the Mullah Abdullah bridge in southern Kirkuk, Iraq, on Monday.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alawi said that while Islamic State, which has proclaimed a caliphate across northern Iraq and Syria, was threatening the national interests of Iran, but his ministry had a handle on the group’s plots.

Tehran was aware of the jihadist group’s activities and was cooperating with countries battling the group, Alawi told journalists at a press conference in the Iranian capital on Tuesday.

Iran’s intelligence community has assisted Iraq and Syria since the advance of Islamic State began.

“The situation in both these countries would be different today, had Iran not intervened,” Alawi was quoted as saying by the state’s Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran was assisting all nations directly affected by ISIS, he said, adding that several people affiliated with the radical organization have been detained inside his country (and now face trial), as part of Iran’s crackdown on “radical and extremist Shia and Sunni movements.”

Alawi said that such extremist groups are seeking to divide Iran, according to IRNA.

ISIS now controls between 20-30 percent of all populated areas in Iraq, according to Britain,  which has upped its air strikes against Islamic State-controlled areas.

Iran has long been pressed to join the global fight against Islamic State militants since it shares the same concerns over its rise. 

Shifting gears, the intelligence minister blamed the Mossad and other foreign intelligence services for targeting the Islamic Republic. He slammed the Israeli intelligence agency as well as the CIA for constantly spying on Iran’s nuclear and military facilities.

 

Explosion at Iran Nuke Site Kills Two, Iran Says

In this satellite image supplied Friday Aug. 24, 2012, by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), showing what they say are buildings, seen here at centre and top, shrouded with a pink tarp to stop the U.N nuclear agency from monitoring Tehran's efforts to sanitize the site which they suspect was used for secret work on atomic weapons, in this photo dated Aug. 15, 2012, of the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, Iran

Site suspected of housing clandestine nuclear activities

A large explosion near a suspected nuclear site in Iran has reportedly killed two people and prompted speculation of sabotage at a military site long suspected of housing Tehran’s clandestine nuclear activities, according Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO), which operates under the country’s Ministry of Defense.

One explosion rocked a production plant late Sunday night in east Tehran, near the Parchin nuclear site, according to Farsi language reports in Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

The explosion at a facility referred to as a “production plant” caused a fire that killed two workers, according to Fars, which cited information provided by Iran’s DIO.

Fars first reported news of the explosion, claiming that it took place at an “explosive material factory” near Parchin.

Iranian opposition groups claimed a higher death toll than reported, with some claiming that “at least four military personnel were wounded” in the blast.

Official state run outlets, which often censor material, quoted the head of Tehran’s Fire Squad as saying that four fire stations responded to control the fire and that some were “wounded” during this.

These official reports acknowledge that Parchin is a military site, but claim that actual explosion took place at a non-military installation used as a waste storage depot.

Other thinly sourced reports, such as one from London’s Manoto TV, claimed that as many as 35 were killed in the explosion, though no such number has been confirmed.

Other reports referred to a “strong” and “tremendous explosion” that “shook Eastern Tehran” and blew out the windows of a nearby building and impacted about a 10-mile area, according to Saham News.

The report also cites the explosion as taking place near the “Parchin military site,” which has been known to house “high explosives” and other work related to Iran’s nuclear program, according to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

“The Parchin site is among the military sites of Tehran which produce solid fuel for ballistic missiles without any safety rules and precautions,” Saham reported, according to a translation provided by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Iranian security forces blocked off local streets and assumed a presence near the facility following the explosion, according to the report.

Other Persian reports indicate that Iranian authorities are trying to contain details of the explosion. BBC’s Persian language website, for instance, reported that the Iranian Defense Ministry has not announced the exact name of the place where the explosion took place.

The English language versions of news sites operated by the Iranian regime contain no reports of the explosion as of this afternoon.

The explosion came just hours before inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) were set to tour some of Iran’s nuclear sites, according to Fars.

Iran has long claimed that Western nations and Israel are attempting to sabotage its nuclear site.

Iranian authorities claimed in March that they had thwarted an attempt by other nations to wreak havoc on the country’s nuclear sites, including its heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak.

“Several cases of industrial sabotage have been neutralized in the past few months before achieving the intended damage, including sabotage at a part of the IR-40 facility at Arak,” the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization official was quoted as saying in the press at the time.

The Washington Free Beacon will update this report as new information becomes available.

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