Many in Iran's political hierarchy are hoping that a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers will pave the way for the Islamic republic's full return to the international community, ending years of political isolation and economic sanctions.
But at least on one big issue Iran remains an outlier. After China, Iran is the world's biggest practitioner of capital punishment, executing hundreds of prisoners annually through an opaque legal system that human rights groups say also puts scores of political prisoners behind bars.
Most rights groups agree that Iran is on pace to hang more than 1,000 people this year, many of them from construction cranes in public squares. When coupled with the heavily criticized nature of the nation's judiciary, the executions present fodder for critics of the Obama administration's drive to strike a deal with Tehran and transform Iran into a more "normal" nation.