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Nuclear Iran

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According to a recent poll, the vast majority of Americans view Iran’s nukes as a threat and Iran as an enemy state. 

A Gallup poll conducted on Friday shows that the vast majority of Americans, 77 percent, say potential Iranian nukes are a “critical threat.” Another 16% say the threat is substantial, but not critical.

The issue has ranked highly compared with other threats facing the US, the survey shows.

As the United States and several other nations continue to negotiate an agreement to limit Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, more than eight in 10 Americans view Iran unfavorably (84%), the poll shows. Only 11% have a favorable view of the Islamic Republic. Despite a potential thaw in Iranian-US relations if a deal is achieved, the overall American view of its long-time enemy has not changed in 26 years.

Among 22 countries, Iran is considered by Americans as the least favorable, according to Gallup’s World Affairs poll, which was conducted among a random sample of 837 adults, ages 18 and older. The list includes prominent US adversaries, such as Russia, Syria and North Korea.

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However, while few Americans see Iran any more favorably today than in recent years, even fewer (9%), in an open-ended question, name it as America’s greatest enemy, down almost half since last year (16%) and a nearly fourfold drop from the 2012 high (32%). This year, Russia, North Korea and China were described as unfavorable more frequently than Iran.

Public Opinion Affects Deal Acceptance

Gallup points out that the Americans’ negative stance towards Iran may affect any agreement achieved by the Obama administration, as any deal would have to confront congressional scrutiny, and given Iran’s low favorability with the American people, it could make a selling of any deal with Iran a hard one on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill (Shutterstock)

However, as the prospect of a possible agreement increases, Democratic voters are notably less likely to classify the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb as a critical threat, compared with Republicans or even with Democratic responses in prior years. Today, 68% of Democrats say Iranian nuclear weapons would be a critical threat, compared with 91% of Republicans. This formidable 23-percentage-point gap, among the highest among the eight threats measured in the Gallup survey, was virtually nonexistent last year, when 86% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats viewed it as a critical threat.

In summary, Gallup writes that the US, together with the five other world powers, and Iranian negotiators are working to reach an accord satisfactory to all parties regarding Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Any agreement would have the herculean task of overcoming a generation’s worth of mutual enmity, feelings that are at least partially evident in Americans’ low favorable rating of Iran.

Attitudes toward Iran may prove a weight on US negotiators and will be reflected in Congress’ reaction to any deal, Gallup predicts. At the same time, stopping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb is a pressing priority for most Americans, meaning policymakers who reject a deal out of hand could feel pressure to promote another solution.

By: United with Israel Staff

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