SA suspends Iran oil imports

2012-03-22 13:32

South Africa has suspended almost all of its oil imports from Iran and intends to abide by a US request to make significant cuts in its Iranian supplies.

“(To my knowledge), no Iranian oil is flowing into our country,” Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told a news conference today. “If there is any, it is very little.”

South Africa is on a US state department list of 12 nations that buy Iranian oil and could have been subject to US sanctions had it not significantly cut purchases.

Iran is South Africa’s leading crude oil supplier, accounting for about 29% of oil imports to Africa’s biggest economy, according to the US energy information administration.

Earlier, Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said Pretoria had not decided what to do about the US request.

“There’s no decision made one way or the other, but Cabinet is deliberating on Iran,” Manyi told a news conference.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said last week that she hoped to have a plan by the end of May for replacing supplies from Iran.

Ebrahim said he did not agree with the US’s move to impose sanctions on nations that purchase Iranian oil. But he said Pretoria was forced to abide by it due to the economic difficulties the nation would feel if it didn’t comply.

“We don’t have any choice in the matter,” Ebrahim said. “As a sovereign country, South Africa should be able to buy oil from wherever it wants.” 

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