Diplomatic opening has not led to any improvement in Iran’s human rights record

Foreign Policy reports: It has been a bumper year for capital punishment in Iran.

Tehran hanged at least 694 people between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15, the highest rate of executions in the Islamic Republic in some 25 years, according to a report released Tuesday by a U.N. human rights monitor.

The pace of executions is likely driven by a surge in drug crimes, which accounted for 69 percent of the executions in the first half of 2015, according to the 26-page report.

The report’s findings present a decidedly harsh image of the country at a time when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his American-educated foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have been promoting a more moderate vision of Iran to the outside world.

Since signing a landmark nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers in July, Tehran has been hosting a procession of Western officials and business leaders looking to do business with a newly sanctions-free Iran. But even if the country has seen a diplomatic opening of sorts since Rouhani came to power in the summer of 2013, that hasn’t translated into any improvement in other sensitive areas.

“In terms of human rights, there has been no sign of improvement in the country,” Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, told reporters at a press conference Tuesday at U.N. headquarters. [Continue reading…]

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