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Earthquake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fox & Friends floats impeachment conspiracy theory about GAO findings of Trump crimes against Ukraine

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"Fox & Friends" assured viewers they could ignore a federal watchdog agency's findings that President Donald Trump broke the law by withholding Ukraine aid.

The nonpartisan the Government Accountability Office found the White House Office of Management and Budget violated the law by freezing $400 million in congressionally approved military aid, but the Fox News hosts suggested the agency was only trying to hurt the president.

"Do you think it's just a coincidence that that news would drop exactly the same day the (impeachment) trial started?" said co-host Steve Doocy.

Co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Ainsley Earhardt agreed, and accepted administration denials at face value.

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GOP senators are questioning allegiance to Trump as impeachment becomes a reality: Morning Joe panel

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According to members of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panel, Donald Trump may see more defections by previously supportive Republican senators now that the impeachment of the president has become a reality and their conduct will be scrutinized by voters back home.

Speaking with columnist David Ignatius, host Joe Scarborough noted that multiple Republican senators -- including several who are retiring -- are going soft on defending the president and may be inclined to allowing multiple witnesses who could damage the president.

"David Ignatius, you know, we've known Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) both of us, for a long time. and as they coming to the end of their careers," Scarborough began. "I would think [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell would be concerned that these gentlemen would vote their conscience and not just blindly follow Donald Trump and would vote to have a fair, open hearing and trial and get this new evidence that's coming in, that's come in since the House impeached."

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Iran’s supreme leader says Trump is a ‘clown’ who will betray Iranians

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Iran’s supreme leader said President Donald Trump is a “clown” who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will “push a poisonous dagger” into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the mass funerals for Iran’s top general, who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this month, show that the Iranian people support the Islamic Republic despite its recent trials. He said the “cowardly” killing of Soleimani had taken out the most effective commander in the battle against the Islamic State group.

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