Europeans and Americans Share Concerns About Iran's Nuclear Program

  • November 18, 2009
  • By Erin Carrier-Kretschmer, Senior Researcher, and Pew Global Attitudes Project

As international pressure mounts on Iran to halt its nuclear program, Americans and Europeans generally express serious concerns about the potential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran. However, these fears are somewhat muted in Russia -- a nation that will be crucial to any effort to impose new sanctions on Iran.

14-nation survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, conducted Aug. 27 through Sept. 24, finds worries about Iran developing nuclear weapons most common among Americans: 82% say that this would be a major threat to the well-being of the U.S. Similarly, concerns are widespread in Western Europe – large majorities in Spain (81%), Germany (79%), Italy (78%) and France (74%) view Iran's emergent nuclear capabilities as a major threat.

This view is less common among Eastern Europeans. Still, 69% of Czechs view Iran's potential nuclear capabilities as a threat, as do more than six-in-ten in Poland (65%), Bulgaria (63%) and Lithuania (62%). Roughly half in Slovakia (52%) and Hungary (46%) express worry about Iran developing a nuclear capacity.

By contrast, there is less concern about this issue in Russia, which, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has veto power over any UN effort to impose sanctions on Iran. Just over four-in-ten Russians (41%) say Iran's potential nuclear status poses a major threat to their country, while 48% deem it only a minor threat or not a threat at all. Ukrainians are even less worried – only 27% say Iran's emergent nuclear status is a major threat to their country, while nearly half (48%) say it is a minor danger or no danger at all. Many in Ukraine say they don't know (26%).

Read the full commentary Europeans and Americans Share Concerns About Iran's Nuclear Program on the Pew Research Center's Web site.