South African crude oil imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran have increased to $434.8 million in March from $364 million in February, customs data show.
South Africa’s Revenue Service said on Monday that Africa's biggest economy imported 505,908 tons of Iranian crude in March, up from 417,188 tons the previous month, Reuters reported.
South Africa has come under pressure from Western countries to cut Iranian crude imports, in line with the sanctions designed to halt Tehran's nuclear energy program, but it seems that Pretoria has not bowed to the US pressure to downgrade commercial ties with Iran.
In January, trade and customs figures showed that South Africa’s crude imports from Iran stood at zero, compared with a monthly average of $280 million last year, but they began rising again in February.
According to the March data, crude imports totaled 1.6 million tons, with Nigeria supplying 38 percent, Iran 32 percent, Saudi Arabia 22 percent, and Angola the rest.
The United States and the European Union recently imposed tough financial and oil sanctions on Iran in an attempt to pile up pressure on the country.
The US sanctions measure requires foreign financial institutions to make a choice between transactions with the Central Bank of Iran and Iran’s oil and financial sectors or being banned from the US economy.
On January 23, the EU agreed to ban oil imports as well as petroleum products from Iran and freeze the assets of the Central Bank of Iran across the EU.
The European Union also imposed a ban on the sale of diamonds and gold and other precious metals to Iran.
Iran has conclusively refuted the allegations that its nuclear program has been diverted to weapons production, saying that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to acquire and develop nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes.