South Africa has increased its crude imports from Iran to USD 364 million in February, up from zero in the previous month, firmly ignoring the US-led oil embargo on the Islamic Republic, an official report says.

South Africa’s Revenue Service revealed on Monday that the country imported 417,000 tons of Iranian crude in February, indicating a dramatic change of a declining trend seen since October, when the country last imported 467,000 tons of the commodity, according to Reuters.

In January, trade and customs figures showed that South Africa’s crude imports from Iran stood at zero, compared with a monthly average of USD 280 million last year.

The US and the European Union have imposed financial and oil sanctions against Iran since the beginning of 2012, in persisting efforts to halt the Islamic Republic's increasingly self-sufficient nuclear energy program.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama gave a green light last week to further sanctions against foreign banks and other financial institutions by or through which Iran’s oil is purchased.

He claimed that there is enough oil on the global market to ensure that the move will not trigger an oil shock affecting US consumers.

Iran has rejected the Western and Israeli allegations that its nuclear energy program involves non-civilian diversions, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has every right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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News ID 181665