Thursday, September 21, 2006

World Opinion Does Not Favor Military Attacks on Iran

According to a new 25-nation poll, world opinion does not favor aggressive international measures to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The poll was conducted for BBC World Service, including the USA, the UK and Iraq.

On average across the 25 countries polled, only 17 percent believe that “Iran is producing nuclear fuel strictly for energy needs,” while 60 percent assume that “Iran is also trying to develop nuclear weapons.” This view is held by a majority in 19 of the countries and is especially widespread among Americans (83%), South Koreans (76%), Italians (74%), and Brazilians (72%). In just three countries do more than one in three believe that Iran is only pursuing nuclear energy—Iraq (38%), Egypt (38%), and Indonesia (35%). But even among these countries, substantially more believe that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons—Iraq (60%), Egypt (54%), Indonesia (47%).

Majorities in every country polled also say they would be concerned “if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons.” On average 72 percent say they would be concerned and just 17 percent say they would not. In only two countries do the number saying that they are not concerned rise above one in three—Indonesia (40%) and Iraq (34%).

However, overall only 43 percent say they are ‘very concerned’ and in only nine countries does this represent a majority. These include the US (72%, very concerned), Great Britain (67%), Australia (67%), Italy (65%), Israel (64%), Canada (63%), Brazil (57%), Germany (57%), and Poland (52%). Consistent with this lack of intensity in concern, even if Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel, very few people favor the UN Security Council authorizing “a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.” On average only 11 percent favor such strikes and in no country is this more than one in three. The highest levels of support were found in Iraq (34%), Israel (30%), and the US (21%).

Even the idea of imposing economic sanctions garners only modest support – on average it is supported by 30%. The most popular approach is using ‘only diplomatic efforts’ – on average this is supported by 39%. Combining the two assertive forms of dealing with Iran—military strikes and economic sanctions--in only five countries does a majority favor the UN Security Council authorizing either of these. These are the US (military strikes 21%, sanctions 45%), Iraq (military strikes 34%, sanctions 29%), Israel (military strikes 30%, sanctions 32%), Canada (military strikes 13%, sanctions 39%), and Australia (military strikes 8%, sanctions 44%). On average, 41 percent favor either of these assertive approaches.

These previous polls are also interesting:

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