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Quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

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    Agence France-Presse

Tehran, Iran   /   Fri, December 27, 2019   /   12:28 pm
 Quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant A file photo taken on October 26, 2010 shows the inside of reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran. Attention is once again focused on how close Iran could be to a nuclear weapon, after Tehran said on July 7, 2019 it had started enriching uranium to a higher level than agreed in a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by the US. Iranian officials have hinted they may go up to five percent, the level needed to produce fuel for Iran's only nuclear power station at Bushehr. (AFP/Hamed Malekpour/Far News Agency)

An earthquake struck Iran on Friday less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the country's only nuclear power plant, monitors said. There were no immediate reports of any damage.

The US Geological Survey said the 5.1 magnitude quake struck 44 kilometres (27 miles) southeast of Borazjan city and at a depth of 38 kilometres.

Its reported epicentre is 45 kilometres east of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, on the southwest Gulf coast.

The Iranian Seismological Center said in a preliminary report on its website that the strength of the quake was 4.9 magnitude and that its depth was 10 kilometres.

The quake jolted villages near Kalameh city, semi-official news agency ISNA said, adding there were no immediate reports of any damage.

"Based on assessments by the Red Crescent, and regional (authorities), we're yet to hear of any damage," it quoted the head of the province's crisis centre, Jahangir Dehghani, as saying.

"We might have roads blocked in parts of the mountain due to the quake's intensity," he added.

The Bushehr plant, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, was built by Russia after being delayed for years and officially handed over in September 2013.

The Islamic republic is seeking to reduce its reliance on oil and gas with 20 nuclear facilities planned over the coming years.

Its nuclear programme is at the centre of a dispute with the United States, which suspects Iran is trying to obtain an atomic bomb, something the Islamic republic vehemently denies.

Tensions have escalated between the arch-foes since May last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 accord.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran sits on top of major tectonic plates and sees frequent seismic activity.

In November 2017 a 7.3-magnitude tremor in the western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people.

In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeast Iran decimated the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.

Iran's deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in northern Iran, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.