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Four out of five American likely voters see Iran’s nuclear weapons program as a threat to the United States and its NATO allies, according to a new poll commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP).
The poll of 800 likely voters in the upcoming U.S. presidential election found that 39 percent considered the Iranian nuclear weapons program a very big threat and 41 percent thought it was a moderate threat to the United States and the nations of NATO. Only 12 percent said it was not much of a threat and six percent said it was no threat at all.
The poll, conducted by polling firm Public Opinion Strategies July 18-19, carried a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
Eighty percent of likely voters believe Iran is building nuclear weapons, despite the Tehran government’s constant denials. Only 10 percent thought it was not. Moreover, there was a high level of consensus across party lines on this, with 72 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents and 89 percent of Republicans convinced the Iranians were building nuclear weapons.
Sixty percent say Iran’s nuclear program poses a very big threat to Israel and another 27 percent say the program is a moderate threat. Iranian leaders have frequently vowed to wipe Israel off the map.
There was also strong support for tough economic sanctions against Iran, with 78 percent of likely voters – including 75 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans – backing such measures. These figures were broadly unchanged since the last TIP poll in February 2012.
Support remained overwhelmingly high (80 percent to 16 percent) even when voters were asked if they would still support the sanctions if they caused hardship to ordinary Iranians.
But 67 percent of likely voters did not consider it likely that sanctions and diplomacy would prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons capabilities; only 30 percent thought this likely. Again this finding was virtually unchanged since last February.
A fairly wide gap between Democrats and Republicans became apparent in responses to this question, with 77 percent of Republicans but only 55 percent of Democrats saying it is not likely that sanctions and diplomacy would work.
Despite two-thirds of the American public not believing that sanctions and diplomacy will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a new round of sanctions Monday. These sanctions would target Iran's energy, shipping and insurance sectors.
A House vote is expected as early as Wednesday. Congress has one week to pass the legislation before a month-long recess.
The poll found support for Israel high with 61 percent saying the United States should side with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians and only seven percent saying it should back the Palestinians. The support for Israel figure had edged slightly up since February, from 57 percent to 61 percent.