Survey Shows Strong Majority Support for Obama Approach on Iran

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.

The analysis and methodology of the survey are available on-line, as are the actual questions and answers as given by various demographic groups.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. I don’t know about other Americans, but does it ever occur to anyone that the US is just working its ass off to “save” everything to do with Iran having nukes and Israel having nukes but promising not to use them, et cetera? Why is it the US who decides who can do what in the world — whether it changes its mind 50 times a minute or not — and decides a country can have this but not that or that but not this? Do you ever imagine that the Iranians are actually laughing their asses off knowing that all they have to do is say “enrichment” and everyone goes nuts, and then they say “peaceful purposes” and everyone sighs with relief?

    Why doesn’t the US say to Israel and Iran both that we’re fed up with all their behavior, that we’re sorry we gave Israel the bomb and all that, but why don’t we just tell them to decide what they want to do and see if it works. Do we really think they would blow each other off the map? I doubt it, because whatever happens there will exist a balance of forces between the two, what used to be called mutually-assured self-destruction or something.

    My God, look at all the people who are getting their political and emotional rocks off on these
    two pathetic countries and their mutual inability to act like grownups.

    I bet you could translate all this crazy behavior right down to kindergarten level and the two toddlers would be shouting at each other across the merry-go-round.

    What if everyone just chose to ignore them? Whatever they say or threaten, just say nothing, or say something like “when you want to join the 21st century and help solve hunger and poverty, let us know. Meanwhile, just keep up your little spats, which are obviously more interesting and important to you than trying to behave like mature adults.

    Really, a pox on them all.

    Peter Winterble
    Buenos Ares

    PS: You obviously don’t have to print this, but it’s reaching the Mega Wonk level
    where no one can really explain anything — nor wants to.

  2. Kudos to you Mr Winterble, I agree with your position, though perhaps I’d go it further and say arm the whole world, then we might get down to the niddy gitty and solve the other important aspects facing humankind today.

  3. I think the reason the Republicans chose choice #1 is because you didn’t let them choose to just start slaughtering people.

    America should not be dragged into another, bigger, stupider, war based on lies.

  4. @Peter
    I guess even a mature adult will complain and defend its position when it is unfairly treated, to the point of even risking sound like a child should your countrymen be dying because of crippling sanctions.

    The question should be why is it that a country that receives billions in financial help, the most advanced military toys and the protection of a superpower act like a child?

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