Americans Worried About Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program

by David W. Moore

Vast majority see Iran as threat to United States

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The news out of the Middle East is that Iran is on the verge of manufacturing nuclear weapons, if it has not already done so. The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds the American public worried about Iran's nuclear capabilities, and viewing the country as a threat to the United States. Unlike other political issues, there are only minor differences in opinion among partisan groups.

The poll, conducted Jan. 20-22, finds that 19% of Americans view Iran as an "immediate" threat to the United States (this question was asked before any mention of a possible nuclear weapons program in Iran), with another 65% seeing that Middle Eastern country as a "long-term" threat. Just 12% of Americans believe Iran poses no threat.

Which comes closest to your view -- [ROTATED: Iran poses an immediate threat to the United States, Iran poses a long-term threat to the U.S., but not an immediate threat, or Iran does not pose a threat to the United States at all]?

Immediate
threat

Long-term
threat

Does not
pose a threat

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Jan 20-22

19

65

12

5

2004 Nov 19-21 ^

16

65

14

5

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1 ^

15

65

15

5

2003 May 30-Jun 1

13

64

20

3

^ Asked in rotation with North Korea; results reported based on half sample where Iran was asked first

Quite often, opinions on political matters are highly polarized, with most Republicans taking one position, Democrats another. The war in Iraq and terrorism are two such issues. But in this case, the differences among partisans are relatively modest, with large majorities of all three groups viewing Iran as either an immediate or long-term threat -- from 94% among Republicans to 79% among Democrats. Republicans are more inclined to view Iran as an immediate threat (28%) than are either independents (12%) or Democrats (17%).

Perceptions of Iran's Threat to the United States,
Compared by Party Affiliation


Immediate
threat

Long-
term
threat

Does not
pose a
threat

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Jan 20-22

19

65

12

5

Republicans

28

66

5

2

Independents

12

69

14

5

Democrats

17

62

17

5

About three-quarters of Americans say they are either very (27%) or somewhat (47%) worried about Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons. Again, partisan differences are modest, with over two-thirds of each group expressing worry. Independents appear a bit more sanguine than either Republicans or Democrats. Thirty-three percent of independents, compared with 21% of Republicans and 22% of Democrats, are not worried.

Worry About Iran's Nuclear Weapons Capability,
Compared by Party Affiliation

How worried are you about Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not at all worried?

BASED ON 506 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Very
worried

Somewhat
worried

Not too
worried

Not at all
worried

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Jan 20-22

27

47

19

6

1

Republicans

32

47

14

7

0

Independents

22

46

26

7

1

Democrats

28

51

17

5

*

* Less than 0.5%

In assessing Iran's intent, most Americans say Iran is trying to develop its own nuclear weapons. Overall, 80% express that point of view. Among Republicans, the figure is 89%, compared with 76% each of independents and Democrats.

Perceptions of Iran's Intentions to Develop Nuclear Weapons,
Compared by Party Affiliation

Based on what you have heard or read, do you think that the government of Iran is -- or is not -- attempting to develop its own nuclear weapons?

BASED ON 500 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

Yes, is

No, is not

No opinion

%

%

%

2006 Jan 20-22

80

12

8

Republicans

89

6

5

Independents

76

17

7

Democrats

76

16

9

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 20-22, 2006. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the 506 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 500 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/21121/Americans-Worried-About-Irans-Nuclear-Weapons-Program.aspx
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