The election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president seemed to signal a dramatic change in policies from the previous government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet,, despite an overseas image of moderation, serious human rights abuses continue in Iran over protests from human rights groups in and outside the country.

Rouhani's government had achieved a diplomatic victory when it obtained relief from punishing international sanctions in exchange for curbing its disputed nuclear program. The accord, which was endorsed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, resulted in immediate economic relief and opened the way for further concessions from Western countries.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports, last September Iran increased its oil exports by 180,000 barrels per day compared to the previous year, equivalent to a 26 percent increase.