GENEVA - At least 80 people and perhaps as many as 95 have been executed in Iran already this year, a surge in the use of the death penalty that has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under President Hassan Rouhani, the United Nations said on Friday.

Rouhani, who won a surprise election last year on a platform of more openness with the West, clinched an interim deal in November with world powers over Iran's nuclear program.

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In September, dozens of political prisoners were released, raising hopes that he would also improve human rights in a country that ranks second after China on Amnesty International's list of states with the highest use of capital punishment.

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