TEHERANS days as the Iranian capital may be numbered after a powerful government body approved a plan for a new principal city in an attempt to protect residents from a dangerous earthquake, Telegraph reported on Monday. Seismologists have warned that Teheran is liable to be struck by a catastrophic earthquake in the foreseeable future. In a move aimed at avoiding mass casualties from the natural disaster, the idea of relocating the capital was proposed by the countrys supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and rubber-stamped by the expediency council. It is not clear whether a new capital will be built from scratch or sited in an existing city, the Guardian reports. Iran has had numerous capitals during its history, including Isfahan, Qazvin, Shiraz, Mashhad and Hamedan. Since the Qajar king Agha Mohammad Khan declared it capital in 1795, Teheran has become the countrys political, social, economic and cultural centre. The city is home to 12 million people, up from 250,000 at the start of the 20th century. Most recently, Teheran was the centre of mass street protests triggered by the disputed re-election of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opponents insist was achieved through fraud. Plans for a new capital were first drawn up 20 years ago, but officials only gave them serious consideration after the 2003 earthquake that devastated the south-eastern city of Bam and killed an estimated 40,000 people. Experts warn that Teheran sits on at least 100 faultlines and that many of its buildings would not survive a major quake.