The BRICS group of countries have broadly agreed they are not bound by unilateral sanctions on Iran, measures that threaten higher global oil prices and could result in supply shortages, South Africa's trade minister said on Wednesday.

South Africa has cut its dependence on buying oil from Iran, the world's fifth-biggest oil exporter, and is proactively trying to diversify its purchases, Rob Davies told Reuters on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the Indian capital.

The BRICS group of emerging world powerhouses - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are meeting in New Delhi amid Western pressure to cut crude imports as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

China and India are the biggest buyers of Iran's crude.

I think that we all broadly agree with the proposal, the terminology that was made, that if there are U.N. Security Council sanctions then we are all bound by that, but if there are sanctions that are imposed by other countries unilaterally, they shouldn't have to apply to us, Davies said, after a meeting of BRICS trade ministers.

(Reporting by Matthias Williams; Editing by Jo Winterbottom)