by Jim Lobe
According to a new poll, a strong majority of the U.S. public supports an agreement that would limit Iran’s enrichment capacity and impose highly intrusive inspections on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The survey was released Tuesday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to persuade Congress to derail such a deal.
The poll, conducted by the Program for Public Consultation and the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland during the third week in February, gave its more than 700 respondents pro and con arguments for various positions surrounding the P5+1 negotiations. Then it posed a series of questions about the opinions.
After receiving all of the arguments and answering the preliminary questions, the respondents were given a final policy option and asked which they considered more persuasive.
[1.] Continue to pursue a long-term agreement that limits Iran’s enrichment of uranium. Iran would accept intrusive inspections of their program, while the US would accept Iran enriching to the low level necessary for nuclear energy, and would gradually ease some sanctions provided that Iran sticks to the agreement.
[2.]Do not negotiate an agreement that includes Iran having limited enrichment, but rather impose new sanctions on other countries to get them to cut their economic relations with Iran to pressure Iran to agree to completely stop all uranium enrichment.
Overall, 61% of respondents chose the first option, while 36% favored the second. Interestingly, self-described independents were more inclined to choose the second option than were Republicans. Thus, 61% of Republicans opted for the first approach, while only 54% of independents agreed. Two-thirds of Democrats took the first approach.
Conversely, 32% of Democrats chose the second option as did only 35% of Republicans. Forty-two percent of independents opted for the second approach.
Among other demographic details, respondents who watched Christian cable channels tended to be much more supportive of the second option than the first. That was also applied, albeit to a much lesser extent, to people who watched Fox News.
The arguments made in the poll are very well presented, having been vetted in advance by both advocates and foes of a deal.
The survey also covers attitudes toward Netanyahu over the last three months, finding that he himself has become an increasingly partisan figure in U.S. politics.