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TEHRAN — The deal between Tehran and the West to curb Iran's secretive nuclear program in return for an end to crippling economic sanctions isn't slated to take effect until Oct. 19. But with Western delegations already streaming in and out of Tehran in anticipation of business and investment opportunities, Iran's Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi said this week that "sanctions via the sea are effectively over," reformist daily Shargh reported.

Akhoundi suggested that the international sanctions regime was being quietly dismantled ahead of its formal timetable, and that "for six months now" as many as 16 cargo liners had been docking at three different Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea. He made the remarks at a Sunday meeting in Tehran with Poland's Economy Minister Janusz Piechocinski.

Shargh cited Tehran-based analyst Hadi Haqshenas as saying that ending sea-bound sanctions would cut $100 off the cost of every container of goods imported into Iran.

A member of a national transporters' association, Mas'ud Daneshmand, also told Shargh that sanctions had meant "no ship from any country had the right to dock at an Iranian port. But now, all ships can enter Iranian ports," which seemingly corroborated Akhoundi's remarks. Daneshmand predicted that with a formal end to sanctions, shipping would be redirected from Arab ports on the Persian Gulf back to Iran.

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