The public approves of direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, although most Americans are not hopeful the talks will succeed. And a strong majority – 61% – says that it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action. Far fewer (24%) say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it means that the country may develop nuclear weapons.
There is broad willingness across the political spectrum to use military force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Seven-in-ten Republicans (71%) and two-thirds of independents (66%) say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons even if it means taking military action. Fewer Democrats (51%) express this view; still, only about three-in-ten Democrats (31%) say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, if it means Tehran may develop nuclear weapons.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds substantial public support for non-military strategies aimed at persuading Iran from going ahead with its nuclear program. Yet there is considerable skepticism that these efforts – tougher international sanctions as well as direct talks with Iran – would succeed in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program.
More than six-in-ten Americans (63%) approve of the United States negotiating directly with Iran over the issue of its nuclear program while 28% oppose such talks. In September 2006, 54% said they would favor such negotiations while 32% were opposed. At the time, the Bush administration opposed direct negotiations with Iran.
Yet while the public supports nuclear talks with Iran, a clear majority (64%) says they will not work in getting Iran to give up its nuclear program, compared with just 22% who say they will work.
Read the full report Most Would Use Force to Stop Iranian Nukes on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.